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Fault Scarp, California

Pictures of Tectonic Landforms


Motion on a fault may raise one side above the other and create a scarp. This fault scarp formed in the 1872 Owens Valley earthquake. (more below)
A perishable landform
Photo courtesy Ron Schott of Flickr under Creative Commons license
Fault scarps are short-lived features in geologic terms, enduring no more than a few millennia at best; they are one of the purest tectonic landforms. But the movements that raise scarps leave a large area of land on one side of the fault higher than the other side, a persistent elevation difference that erosion can obscure but never erase. As fault displacement is repeated thousands of times over millions of years, larger escarpments and whole mountain ranges—like the high Sierra Nevada range beyond—can arise.
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