It is a crack or break in the crust of a planet along which movements or detachments can occur.
The movement responsible for the dislocation can have a vertical, horizontal direction or a combination of both. In the mountainous masses that have been raised by fault movement, the displacement can be thousands of meters representing the effect, accumulated in the long term, of small and imperceptible displacements instead of a large single survey.
However, when the activity in a fault is sudden and abrupt, a strong earthquake and even a surface rupture can occur, forming a topographic form called fault scarp.
The largest faults form the boundaries between the different plates of the earth's crust. They are activated by the forces that cause continental drift. The movement in minor local faults can be due to tensions, as in the failures that define some mountain ranges, or to compression, as in faults where sedimentary strata are stacked to also form mountain ranges.
Sometimes, in addition to an upward movement, the blocks are also moved horizontally, in the case of tear or shear failures. If sufficient time passes, erosion can flatten the two walls destroying any trace of the ground surface breaking; but if the movement of the fault is recent or very large, it can leave a visible scar or a cliff-shaped fault escarpment.
|◄ Previous||Next ►|