Earthquakes: Unique Characteristics of Transform Faults Essay

Earthquakes: Unique Characteristics of Transform Faults Essay

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Unique Characteristics of Transform Faults
There are many characteristics that make earthquakes along transform fault different from subduction zones, rift zones, and mid-ocean ridge transform faults. For instance, transforms faults are when two plates move past each other, shearing, with no creation or destruction of lithosphere. At transform faults, earthquakes are shallow and run as deep as 25 km. the magnitude of the earthquakes are smaller than 8.5 in the scale of Richter. In extensional boundaries, earthquakes are also shallow, but they occur only along the alignment of spreading and are smaller than 8 in magnitude. At compressional boundaries, earthquakes can be found at or near surface and at several hundred kilometers in depth.
Because of the difference in temperature, the subducting plate is colder than the plate in which it is being subducted under, the rock begins to warm up and it tends to become brittle enough to break suddenly and cause earthquakes. Here, in the subduction zone, the deepest earthquakes occur to a depth of about 700 km.
Continental transform plate boundaries appear today in the circum-Pacific region (California, southern Alaska, New Zealand, and in the Alpine fold belt, e.g. Turkey, and the Dead Sea) (Windley, 1978). Transform faults that originate in continental plate boundaries manifest specific expressions in their morphology and topography over extended distances. These tectonic features are generally associated with complex systems of echelon fractures, folding, and faulting that originate in narrow-elongated zones. In transform fault systems, the deformations that characterize them are mostly oblique divergence or convergence, hardly resulting in evenly distributed shear zones. The resulting ...

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... observed to be about 30 mm/yr.

Towards the north, the Pacific Plate is moving to, as well as it is being subducted below the Australian plate. Towards the south, these two plates are moving towards each other, but the Australian Plate is being subucted under the Pacific Plate. The motion of these plates is quite small but rapid, which is regularly accompanied by a series of earthquakes. In the northeast section of the fault, there is a seismic zone where deep earthquakes occur. This occurs where the Pacific Plate is subducted under the Australian Plate. In this area, the boundary between both plates known as the Benioff Zone is located. Shallow earthquakes occur towards the southeast of this seismic zone. On the other hand, towards the south, where the Australian Plate is being subducted, deeper earthquakes occur on the southeast section of the seismic zone (UO).

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