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California's San Andreas Fault

San Andreas Fault, Part 7: Desert Hot Springs & Coachella Valley

By DAN ROBINSON
Storm Chaser/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Chasing
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GALLERY: All San Andreas Fault photos in gallery format

After arriving in San Gorgonio Pass, we've made it to the last segment of our San Andreas Fault tour. In this area, the San Andreas branches from east to west into a complex network of multiple faults (or strands), all of which accommodate the plate movement to varying degrees (1). On this tour, we will be following the conventionally-mapped main strand (sometimes referred to as the Mission Creek fault) through Desert Hot Springs. The other recognized major strand of the San Andreas, known as the Banning fault, runs several miles to the south closer to I-10.

Map of Desert Hot Springs and Indio, California
Map of this segment of the tour

Desert Hot Springs, California

Our next stop is along Twentynine Palms Highway where the San Andreas crosses near the intersection with North Indian Canyon Road. This view looks west:

San Andreas Fault zone at Twentynine Palms Highway, CA
click for larger version

After crossing US Highway 62, the San Andreas takes a sharp turn southeast toward downtown Desert Hot Springs. Like the trace through San Bernardino, there are countless streets and residential properties overlying the fault in this city:

San Andreas Fault zone in Desert Hot Springs, CA
San Andreas Fault zone in Desert Hot Springs, CA

The fault zone cuts right through downtown Desert Hot Springs:

San Andreas Fault zone in Desert Hot Springs, CA
San Andreas Fault zone in Desert Hot Springs, CA

Then crosses Dillon Road on the southeast side of town:

San Andreas Fault zone in Desert Hot Springs, CA
San Andreas Fault zone in Desert Hot Springs, CA

Southeast of Desert Hot Springs, the San Andreas begins to make itself known visually again in the form of linear hills, scarps and contrasting soils:

San Andreas Fault zone near Sky Valley, CA
click for larger version
The fault makes another gradual turn toward the southeast before approaching Thousand Palms Canyon:
San Andreas Fault zone near Thousand Palms Canyon, CA
click for larger version
The fault zone crosses Thousand Palms Canyon Road in the Coachella Valley Preserve. This view looks west at the road cut through the fault zone:

San Andreas Fault zone at Thousand Palms Canyon, CA
click for larger version

And looking east:

San Andreas Fault zone at Thousand Palms Canyon, CA
click for larger version

Indio, California

At Indio, the fault zone crosses Dillon Road once more:

San Andreas Fault zone in Indio, CA
San Andreas Fault zone in Indio, CA

The San Andreas then makes its final interstate highway crossing at I-10 along the Coachella Canal:

San Andreas Fault zone at Indio, CA
click for larger version

We'll continue down past the town of Mecca to our final stop along the fault.

Mecca, California

Here at the fault's crossing of Box Canyon Road, we are only a few more miles from the northern shores of the Salton Sea and the southern terminus of the San Andreas. The eroded cliffs of "fault gouge" are the prominent feature at this location.

San Andreas Fault zone at Box Canyon, CA
click for larger version

We've made it to the end of our tour! If you'd like to learn more about the San Andreas Fault, earthquakes and seismology, visit the resources page.

< Previous: Part 6 | Back to Start >

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