FACT CHECK: Does This Photo Show The San Andreas Fault?
An image shared on Facebook allegedly shows the well-known San Andreas Fault.
The photo shows the Black Crack in Utah, not the San Andreas Fault in California. The post’s figures for the depth and length of the San Andreas Fault also appear to be incorrect.
The picture of a bicycle helmet-clad man peering into a large crack in the earth has been making the rounds with captions claiming it shows the San Andreas Fault. This particular Facebook post captioned it: “San Andreas fault line. 132km long and 32km deep.” (RELATED: Did Scientists Discover Devils Tower Was Originally A Giant Tree?)
The San Andreas Fault, which runs through the western side of California, is over 800 miles long and at least 10 miles deep, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Those measurements equate to roughly 1,287 kilometers long and 16 kilometers deep.
While Check Your Fact was unable to find the original source of the photo, it appears to show the Black Crack located on White Rim Road in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. Similar pictures of the Black Crack, including one where the same rock formations are visible in the background, can be found on the stock photo website Alamy.
Canyonlands National Park confirmed in an email to Check Your Fact that the image depicts the Black Crack “off the White Rim Road within the Island in the Sky District” of the park. The Black Crack is “only a few inches wide, about 800′ deep and only runs a few hundred feet in length,” Canyonlands National Park said.
In the comments of one of its Facebook posts, Canyonlands National Park explained that the Black Crack is an “example of a geologic feature called a ‘joint,'” adding, “In a fault, the rock fractures and one side of the fracture moves relative to the other. Joints are fractures in the rock that exhibit no movement. Joints are often the result of expansion, whether by freeze/thaw or other forces, such as a release of pressure through erosion.”