Fault: Transform

How do the plates accommodate motion near spreading ridges?

A transform fault is a type of strike-slip fault wherein the relative horizontal slip is accommodating the movement between two ocean ridges or other tectonic boundaries. They are connected on both ends to other faults. A transform fault or transform boundary, also known as conservative plate boundary since these faults neither create nor destroy lithosphere, is a type of fault whose relative motion is predominantly horizontal. Additional animations on seafloor spreading and transform faults are available from Tanya Atwater (http://emvc.geol.ucsb.edu/2_infopgs/IP1GTect/eSoAtlantic_CutGlobe.html).


Keypoints:

  • A transform fault  accommodates relative horizontal slip between other tectonic elements, such as oceanic plates
  • A transform fault has strike-slip motion


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In a strike-slip fault, the movement of blocks along a fault is horizontal. The fault motion of a strike-slip fault is caused by shearing forces. Other names: transcurrent fault, lateral fault, tear fault or wrench fault. Examples: San Andreas Fault, California; Anatolian Fault, Turkey.

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New oceanic crust is created at this boundary when basalt magma, formed in the mantle, rises into fractures in the crust and solidifies. Spreading ridges are high elevation because the young oceanic plate at the ridge crest is hot and less dense than the older, colder and more dense plate on the flanks of the ridge. 

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