Searching for Faults

When I unexpectedly and quite surprisingly found myself a few miles from the San Andreas Fault, I was at first appalled and then fascinated. Such a mythical place! Who hasn’t heard the warnings of “the big one” and the quite erroneous assertion that when it hits, Arizona will become beachfront property?

I have plenty of faults of my own, so I don’t  need to go searching for personal faults, but I did go in search of the myth. As I mentioned yesterday, there is no giant crack in the earth, and in many places there is no indication at all of the fault line. Erosion, bulldozers, plows, and buildings have all helped to eradicate any “line.”

Still, there are signs. This “lake” (more of a pond, really) is actually a fault sag, a place where the land sank as a result of earth movement along the fault. Water is collected in the lake from rain, snow melt, and underground springs.

Somewhere down in these narrow gorges is the fault line. Supposedly it is visible as it dips south and west, though I couldn’t see whatever it was I was supposed to see.

I could see better indication of the fault line here, because it is marked by the red sedimentary rock. The gray schist is the local rock, but fault action shifted the red rocks to their present location.

This search was an incredible journey, and as you can see, a beautiful one. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all our personal faults were as hard to find as this geographical fault and as colorful and dramatic when we did catch a glimpse of them?

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Today I Will Be . . . At Fault

Or maybe I’ll be fautless. It all depends on how the day goes.

I’m smiling as I write this, hoping you find my pun as groaningly amusing as I do. The truth is, a couple of friends and I are going on a trip to look for the San Andreas Fault. It’s not as simple a matter as it might seem. Apparently, there is no giant crack in the earth. According to the San Andreas Fault website (yep, the SAF as it is so affectionately called, has its own website): “The SAF has not had a major ground-rupturing earthquake since 1906. Virtually all traces of the ‘giant crack in the ground’ that so many people image the SAF to be have been erased. Erosion fills and covers the fault, plows and bulldozers reshape the surface, roads and neighborhoods are built on the fault. The actual surface trace of the fault is subtle. What one has to look for are the land forms that the plate motion has created.”

Really? Neighborhoods are built on the fault? I suppose it makes sense — that would have been the last bit of available land in many places, and probably relatively cheap, such as all the trailer parks that were build on flood plains and in tornado alleys.

Even though a “big one” is expected sometime this century, you don’t have to worry about my being swallowed up by an earthquake. According to a publication called Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country, “A popular literary device is a fault that opens during an earthquake to swallow up an annoying character. But unfortunately for principled writers, gaping faults exist only in novels. The ground moves across a fault during an earthquake, not away from it. If the fault could open, there would be no friction. Without friction, there would be no earthquake.”

So, not only will I not fall in, I can’t use that idea for a story, which I’d actually thought of doing.  Still, if I disappear, you will no where to find me.  Hmmm. “No where” instead of “know where?” I thought it apropros, so I left in the typo. I hope it’s not a portent for the day.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.