GWEN SHOCKEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GWEN SHOCKEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Diagram of the San Andreas Fault. The San Andreas fault is a strike-slip fault, where the Pacific tectonic plate (right) moves against the North American plate (left). Each plate is pushed in opposite directions, but frictional forces prevent them from moving. Overtime the pressure builds until it exceeds the frictional force, and the plates suddenly move relative to each other, releasing the stored energy as seismic waves. These waves can cause huge damage to buildings and structures over a wide area.
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