From above, it’s flawless.
Sunlight casts a glow on its strengths and shadows provide texture to its shape.
The endless maze of canyons gives it complexity. It’s just enough of everything to know it could be dangerous. Perfection to a fault.
The San Andreas Fault. It’s a seam in the ground, that snakes 800 miles through California and extends to depths of 10 miles within the Earth. It’s the geological feature responsible for plenty of earthquakes and is capable of producing the Big One.
This master fault line runs the length of the Coachella Valley. It protrudes from the earth in spectacular form, producing tangible geology, that anyone can experience.
The Meccacopia wilderness; home to dozens of hiking trails where you can reach out and touch a piece of what the San Andreas Fault created. Hike the canyons; the effects of its constant shifts are everywhere, major uplift, colorful outcroppings and sandstone hillsides that look more like moonscapes than desert.
Ron Chang of Big Wheel Tours says his guests often use the word otherworldly to describe the terrain through this area. He leads jeep tours through these parts, the visible boundary between two massive tectonic plates. The North American and Pacific plates work against each other here creating both a constant threat and fascinating eye candy.
The Fault forms a narrow break in the Earth’s crust, there’s not a particular spot where you can gaze into the center of the earth, it’s covered by erosion, but the effects of its active existence are everywhere.
The Eastern most point of the San Andreas runs parallel to the Salton Sea.
Where it ends, an explosion of bubbles! In geologic terms, mud pots and mud volcanoes.
They release gases from inside the Earth; bubble up through holes in the ground, and give a muddy grand finale to a day of exploration.
Not quite as dramatic as an Earthquake but a fascinating mess none the less and another visual reminder, of the fault below the surface. Geologists say it’s been there for 15 to 20 million years and seismologists predict it will be the one to blame for plenty of shaking for years to come.
For the latest information on the accessibility of the geothermal mud pots contact the
Visitor Center at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge.