The surface of the Earth is broken. The cracks in the earth's crust, known as faults, can travel hundreds of kilometers. These failures are often the locations in which the main earthquakes occur, due to the drift experienced by the tectonic plates that cover the Earth's surface.
The photograph shows the San Andreas Fault in California, one of the longest and most active faults. Visible as the linear geographical accident to the right of the mountains, the San Andres Fault reaches 15 kilometers deep and is approximately 20 million years old.
The image we see here, whose height has been exaggerated, was made by combining the radars deployed by the Endeavor Space Shuttle in February 2000, and a real color photograph of the Landsat.
Along the San Andreas Fault, the Pacific plate moves relative to the enormous North American plate, at an average of a few centimeters per year. At that speed, in a few million years the surface of the Earth will look quite different from what it has today.
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