Monday, December 25, 2006

Don't fault me

We spent part of Christmas at Thousand Palms Oasis in the Coachella Valley Preserve about 10 miles east of Palm Springs.

The oasis is home to the biggest and oldest freakin' palm trees that I've ever seen! (Some sprouted more than 250 years ago). And it sits on top of the Mission Creek branch of the San Andreas Fault -- yes, the one that causes all of those earthquakes.

The grove owes its existence to the fault, which provides a route for water from an aquifer to seep to the surface. (See photo below. Click on any picture to make it bigger.)

The line is more obvious just north of the grove where it forms a shallow, marshy gully distinguished by the taller, yellowish grass in the photo below.
The hill rising behind the gully marks the eastern edge of the Pacific tectonic plate. I took the picture from the western edge of the North American plate just 30 yards away. It's this clash of plates that's the cause of SoCal's mountain ranges and frequent tremors.

Two earthquakes - one measuring 4.0 - hit the area over the Christmas weekend but we didn't notice any shaking.

We finished the day with a Christmas dinner with friends in Palm Springs.

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