When plates move past each other

  • Exhibition Text

    • When oceanic or continental plates slide past each other in opposite directions, or move in the same direction but at different speeds, a transform fault boundary is formed. No new crust is created or subducted, and no volcanoes form, but earthquakes occur along the fault. The transform fault boundaries connect spreading centers and subduction zones, which are the other elements of the jigsaw puzzle of the Earth’s plates.

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  • For Educators

    • Topic: Earth Science

      Subtopic: Plate Tectonics

      Keywords: Subduction zones, Earthquakes, Plate tectonics, Faults (Geology)

      Audience: General

In This Section



This strand of the San Andreas cuts through layers of sedimentary rock in the Anza-Borrego Desert in southern California.

Atlantis fracture zone

Atlantis fracture zone

Deep-sea transform faults, such as the Atlantis, offset the mid-ocean ridges, breaking them up into segments.