Earth science 

Subject: Science
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 1001
Topics: Earthquake, Ecology, Geology


Southern California has one of the major tectonic plate boundaries that are defined by the San Andreas Fault. Most specifically, Southern California has many related faults that are increasingly spread across the different regions. The dynamic tectonic environment has been playing a direct role in the numerous spectacular landscapes available in the region (USGS, 2003). Nonetheless, the beautiful landscape has been faced with hazardous geological events that pose a danger to the region. Recently, there have been the increases in tectonic forces that have played a direct role in the various events such as mudslides, earthquake, and eruptions. Therefore, this paper aims towards analysis of the theory of the plate tectonics through an analysis of Southern California as per the case questions.

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Theory of Plate Tectonics

The plate tectonics theory emphasizes on the analysis of the movement of the plates or pieces of the earth. As such, the plate tectonics theory is a description of how the plates move across the earth surface. From the analysis of Biryol, et al., (2016) the driving aspect of the theory is the convection that prevails in the mantle. According to Biryol, et al., (2016) the outer grid layer is divided into various plates that move across the earth’s surface. The movement about each other is known as the plates that behave like slabs of ice as they move on a water body.

Location and Intensity of Earthquakes and Volcanoes in Southern California

One of the major factors is the location of the San Andreas Fault. According to USGS, (2003) the location of the fault has led to the increased level of plate movement that induces instances of eruptions and earthquakes. Because of the fault, there is the prospect of movement of rocks that induce stress, and as the temperature increases, the rocks melt which translate into magma. The magma movement results into eruption upwards, which entails volcanoes.

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Plate Tectonics Theory Main Movement that shaped the Form and Composition of Southern California

The San Andreas Fault has been deemed as one of the major contributors to the form and composition of the California region. Admittedly, the movement of blocks on both sides of the fault has been attributed to various earthquakes and formation of various natural wonders. As a clear example, the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco was attributed to the fault. Further, the complex landscapes across the Southern California have been attributed to the plate movement. According to the research undertaken by King, (2015) the steep slopes are as a result of the on-going tectonic movement that pushes rocks up.

Past Geological Events in the Region

The recent Bluebird Canyon landslide in 2005 was attributed to the plate movement (Meldahl, 2015). As such, the geological event occurred because of the underlain weak young rocks that were being uplifted and deformed by the compressional forces emanating along the tectonic plate boundary. An evaluation of the distribution of the landslides in the region shows that the Santa Clara River Valley was impacted by the earthquake energy that had significant implications on the rocks and the layout of the region. From the analysis of Meldahl, (2015) the ground shaking originating from earthquakes was deemed as the reason for the landslides that occurred in 2005 across the Southern California. The common form of the earthquake-induced landslide in the region was characterized by shallow falls coupled with slides that significantly disrupted rocks and soil that move down the steep slopes at a fast pace.

Types of Rocks that these Geological Events Formed

The landslides evident because of the magma movement were deemed impactful on the types of rocks formed. Accordingly, the common types of rocks formed were the igneous rocks. that comprised of the ultramafic, mafic, and intermediate. All the rocks were characterized by distinctive chemical composition in regards to iron, magnesium, and calcium. From the research by Yang & Hauksson, (2013) the majority of the samples collected showed a high concentration of iron as compared to the other elements.

Relationship between the Characteristics of these Rocks and Geological Events in Southern California

Earthquakes emanating from the plate tectonic movement in Southern California had a significant relationship with the rocks formed. According to Yang & Hauksson, (2013) the earthquakes translated into increased stress on the rocks, which led to increased temperatures that had an impact in the rock crystallization. The crystallization of the rocks transformed the chemical composition thereby resulting in the different types of igneous rocks.

Importance and Economic Value of these Rocks in Southern California

The igneous rocks play a significant role in Southern California’s rich agricultural lands. From the analysis of the region, the availability of the trace elements in the igneous rocks such as iron, magnesium, and calcium play a pivotal role in the growth of various plants. Accordingly, the igneous rocks have facilitated the growth of grapes and the vibrant wine sector in the region (King, 2015).

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Plate tectonic theory plays a fundamental role in the description of the earth’s movement. Through the theory, there is the descriptive evaluation of how Southern California is impacted by the changes in the earth surface. Most importantly, the tectonic theory has shown that regions such as Santa Clara River Valley face extensive earth movements that have led to significant events such as the 2005 landslide.

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  1. Biryol, C. B., Wagner, L. S., Fischer, K. M., & Hawman, R. B. (2016). The Relationship between Observed Upper Mantle Structures and Recent Tectonic Activity across the Southeastern United States. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth121(5), 3393-3414.
  2. King, P. B. (2015). Evolution of North America. Princeton University Press.
  3. Meldahl, K. H. (2015). Surf, Sand, and Stone: How Waves, Earthquakes, and Other Forces Shape the Southern California Coast. Univ of California Press.
  4. United States Geological Survey (USGS). (2003). Geological Provinces of the United States: Rocky Mountains: Geology and National Parks.
  5. Yang, W., & Hauksson, E. (2013). The Tectonic Crustal Stress Field and Style of Faulting along the Pacific-North America Plate Boundary in Southern California. Geophysical Journal International194(1), 100-117.
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