San Andreas Fault at Wallace Creek

Kite Aerial Photography

California map

The San Andreas fault, which is more than 700 miles (1100 kilometers) in length, is the boundary between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. The portion of the fault running through the Carrizo Plain National Monument, south of Parkfield (see map) is unique because the surface expression of the fault trace is very well defined. The Carrizo Plain is an arid environment and therefore the fault has not been significantly eroded in this region.

These photos were taken using a technique called Kite Aerial Photography (KAP). KAP has a long history, beginning in France in 1889 when Arthur Batut lifted his camera above Labruguière. In 1906, George Lawrence flew his panoramic camera above San Francisco to document damage resulting from the great earthquake.

Interactive, 360 degree panorama of the San Andreas Fault

Thumbnail image of interactive San Andreas Fault movie

On January 9, 1857, the M 7.9 Fort Tejon earthquake occurred just north of the Carrizo Plain. At Wallace Creek, in the Carrizo Plain, the fault moved 30 feet (9m), forming the offset stream channel seen in the interactive photo above. The rupture zone extended nearly 220 mi (350km) from near Parkfield at the northwest end to the vicinity of San Bernardino, east of Los Angeles. Click image for an interactive panorama


Photo showing the kite that is suspending the camera over the San Andreas Fault.

Photos by Scott Haefner, USGS.

Thumbnail image of the San Andreas Fault

View looking southeast along the surface trace of the San Andreas fault in the Carrizo Plain, north of Wallace Creek. Elkhorn Rd. meets the fault near the top of the photo. Click image for a larger version

Thumbnail image of the San Andreas Fault

Closeup shot of the same area above. The cross-cutting feature is a road cut going through the fault. Click image for a larger version

See Also