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(March 15–21, 2006)

Charles C. Benton

Salt Evaporation Ponds - San Francisco Bay

Landis Bennett

Between Two Plates

San Andreas Fault, Point Reyes National Seashore, California, USA

19 March 2006, 1140 PST

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© 2006 Landis Bennett, All Rights Reserved.

For those of you who actually believe in the "theory" of plate tectonics, there is quite an interesting walk at Point Reyes National Seashore in California's west Marin County. The Earthquake walk takes visitors out along the San Andreas Fault. The San Andreas Fault is a transform fault or boundary where two tectonic plates slide past one another: the Pacific Plate on the west side (downhill in this panorama) and the North American Plate on the east side (uphill).

100 years ago, on 18 April 1906, one of the most famous earthquakes was caused by the rapid slip of this fault: The Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. The earth shook at 5:12 am for around 45 seconds. During that time, Point Reyes and everything else west of the San Andreas Fault moved north by between 4 and 21 feet. Fences split as can be seen in some of these historic photos.

This panorama was taken at a location where a fence was built as an example of this displacement. We are standing between the split of the fence on the fault itself. The fence has split by about 16 feet. The blue posts are situated along the fault trace. The fault isn't exactly visible right here, but its presence can be detected up and down most of the state of California. And when it slips again, we'll all know it for sure.
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