VUME Upper Mantle of the Earth

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Transform Faults.

Transform Faults Transform Plate Boundaries are locations where two plates slide past one another. The fracture zone that forms a transform plate boundary is known as a transform fault. Most transform faults are found in the ocean basin and connect offsets in the mid-ocean ridges. A smaller number connect mid-ocean ridges and subduction zones. A transform fault is a special variety of strike-slip fault that accommodates relative horizontal slip between other tectonic elements, such as oceanic crustal plates. Often extend from oceanic ridges.

Transform Faults While most transform faults are hidden in the deep oceans where they form a series of short zigzags accommodating seafloor spreading (see graphic at right), the best-known (and most destructive) are those on land at the margins of tectonic plates. The San Andreas fault zone in California is a transform fault that connects the East Pacific Rise, a divergent boundary to the south, with the South Gorda -- Juan de Fuca -- Explorer Ridge, another divergent boundary to the north. The San Andreas is one of the few transform faults exposed on land. The San Andreas fault zone, which is about 1,300 km long and in places tens of kilometers wide, slices through two thirds of the length of California. Along it, the Pacific Plate has been grinding horizontally past the North American Plate for 10 million years, at an average rate of about 5 cm/yr. Land on the west side of the fault zone (on the Pacific Plate) is moving in a northwesterly direction relative to the land on the east side of the fault zone (on the North American Plate).