What is a fault?

A fault is a thin zone of crushed rock separating blocks of the earth's crust. When an earthquake occurs on one of these faults, the rock on one side of the fault slips with respect to the other. Faults can be centimeters to thousands of kilometers (fractions of an inch to thousands of miles) long. The fault surface can be vertical, horizontal, or at some angle to the surface of the earth. Faults can extend deep into the earth and may or may not extend up to the earth's surface.

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