- Balcones Fault
The Balcones Fault is a zone of normal faulting in
Texas(USA) that runs approximately from the southwest part of the state to the north central region along Interstate 35. Like most fault zones, the Balcones Fault zone is made up of many small, mostly unnamed faults. One of the more well-known faults within the zone is the Mount BonnellFault, which runs through central and west Austin.
The location of the fault zone may be related to the
Ouachita Mountains, formed 300 million years ago during a continental collision. Although long-since eroded away in Texas, the roots of these ancient mountains still exist, buried beneath thousands of feet of sediment. These buried Ouachita Mountainsmay still be an area of weakness that becomes a preferred site for faulting when stress exists in the Earth's crust. The Balcones Fault zone was most recently active about 15 million years ago during the Mioceneepoch. This activity was related to subsidenceof the Texas Coastal Plain, most likely from the large amount of sediment deposited on it by Texas rivers. The Balcones Fault zone is not active today, and is in one of the [http://earthquake.usgs.gov/hazmaps/products_data/2002/2002April03/US/USpga500v4.giflowest risk zones] for earthquakes in the United States.
The surface expression of the fault is the Balcones
Escarpment, which forms the eastern boundary of the Texas Hill Countryand the western boundary of the Texas Coastal Plain and consists of cliffs and cliff-like structures.
Many cities are located along this fault zone, and that is not a coincidence. Frequently, springs such as
San Pedro Springs, Comal Springs, San Marcos Springs, Barton Springsand Salado Springsare found in the fault zone and provide a source of fresh water and an obvious place for human settlement.
* [http://www.lib.utexas.edu/geo/balcones_escarpment/contents.html The Balcones Escarpment :Geology, Hydrology, Ecology and Social Development in Central Texas]
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