Fact check: Viral photo shows Black Crack in Utah – not the San Andreas Fault

·2 min read

The claim: An image shows the San Andreas fault line that is 132 kilometers long and 32 kilometers deep

As many Americans are embarking on summer travels, social media users are sharing an image that misrepresents a fissure in one of America's national parks as the San Andreas Fault.

“San Andreas fault line. 132km long and 32km deep,” claims a July 20 Facebook post.

However, this post is inaccurate on several counts. The image was taken in Utah and the San Andreas fault line is much longer and half as deep as the post claims.

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USA TODAY reached out to the poster for comment.

Canyonlands National Park is vast. A view from Green River Overlook, high above a 1,500-foot mesa in the Island of the Sky, highlights the light-colored, aeolian (dune deposits) flat sedimentary rocks of the White Rim Sandstone. The geographical marvel, with its gigantic cracks in the earth sculpted by wind and water over thousands of years, dazzles visitors.
Canyonlands National Park is vast. A view from Green River Overlook, high above a 1,500-foot mesa in the Island of the Sky, highlights the light-colored, aeolian (dune deposits) flat sedimentary rocks of the White Rim Sandstone. The geographical marvel, with its gigantic cracks in the earth sculpted by wind and water over thousands of years, dazzles visitors.

Image shows Black Crack in Utah

The photo actually shows Black Crack along White Rim Road in Canyonlands National Park in Utah. According to one of the park’s 2017 Facebook posts, Black Crack is at least 65 feet deep and 3 feet wide.

Robert Anderson, a park ranger for Canyonlands, confirmed via email that the fissure in the image "is very much Black Crack!"

A hilly area where the San Andreas Fault runs through the Coachella Valley is seen from the air. An oasis of palm trees is sustained by water that gushes up along the fault line at the Coachella Valley Preserve.
A hilly area where the San Andreas Fault runs through the Coachella Valley is seen from the air. An oasis of palm trees is sustained by water that gushes up along the fault line at the Coachella Valley Preserve.

The fault line is longer and shallower

The San Andreas Fault trends northwestward for more than 1,287 kilometers (800 miles) across California. It is more than 16 kilometers (10 miles) deep.

The fault’s tectonic movements have been involved in several large earthquakes. In 1906, sudden displacement along the fault line caused the historic San Francisco earthquake. The earthquake and the massive fire it caused killed at least 700 people.

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Despite its size, the fault line's appearance is surprisingly subtle from the ground.

The United States Geological Survey described how the fault line creates long straight escarpments, narrow ridges and sharp angles in channels. From the air, the arrangement of lakes, bays and valleys along the fault line is much more obvious.

Our rating: False

Because it is not supported by our research, we rate FALSE the claim that an image shows the San Andreas fault line and that it is 132 kilometers (82 miles) long and 32 kilometers (20 miles) deep. The image shows Black Crack in Canyonlands National Park in Utah. The San Andreas fault line in California is 1,287 kilometers (800 miles) long, 16 kilometers (10 miles) deep.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Black Crack in Utah, not San Andreas Fault, shown in image

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