VHP Photo Glossary: Faults

Lava fountain and `a`a flow erupt from Pu`u `O`o vent, Kilauea Volcano

Photograph by D.A. Swanson on 24 June 1971


Faults are fractures or fracture zones in the Earth's crust along which one side moves with respect to the other. A fault scarp is a cliff or steep slope that sometimes forms along the fault at the surface. There are many types of faults (for example, strike-slip, normal, reverse, and thrust faults) ranging in size from a few tens of meters to hundreds of kilometers in dimension.

Aerial view toward the NE of the Pu`u Kapukapu fault scarp (maximum height about 320 m) in the Hilina fault system, south flank of Kilauea Volcano, Hawai`i. In Hawai`i, these tall cliffs are called "pali's".

More about faults