San Andreas Fault – a shaky Line

I am sure you heard about the famous San Andreas fault. This is about the only fault line I have heard of in my little experienced earthquake life. Wow and my husband asked me to move where this fault is? California. I was not so sure about this idea. I never had to think about possible earthquakes, such a strange concept when up till now you have lived on fairly stable grounds in Europe and Africa.

Now I wanted to find out more about the San Andreas fault. On the map you can clearly see that the fault rans along the Pacific coast line of California. The Pacific plate comes together with the North American plate and causes friction. The plates are moving not underneath one another but along side each other. Meaning, one plate moves up and one down.

Not far from San Francisco is a beautiful place called Point Reyes. Point Reyes is located on the San Andreas fault and you have a clear view of the fault line and the history of the fault. The Bear Valley Visitor Center offers an earthquake walk. It’s a 1 mile walk along the fault line with very nice interpretation and information about the last 2 big earthquakes in San Francisco in 1906 and 1989. The events are beautifully illustrated and through comparisons and explanations the curators try to explain this rather complex topic of tectonic movement. It’s just that, at least for me, the shear power of the earth is hard to comprehend.

The most impressive part of the earthquake walk is the fence, which in the last earth quake moved 5 meters apart. A fence in most cases is a straight line.  The movement of the plates caused the fence to relocate 5 meters away. This was amazing to see.

Returning to the Peninsula I now understood more about the unstable geological area San Francisco is build on. I am not scared, just more aware.

Tips & Insights:

  • Check out the Bear Visitor Center in Point Reyes
  • Point Reyes is a beautiful area with many walks, go for an entire weekend


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