Home » Teaching Plate Tectonics » Transform Boundaries

Transform Plate Boundaries

Transform Plate Boundaries are locations where two plates slide past one another. The fracture zone that forms a transform plate boundary is known as a transform fault. Most transform faults are found in the ocean basin and connect offsets in the mid-ocean ridges. A smaller number connect mid-ocean ridges and subduction zones.

Transform Plate Boundary

A Strike-Slip Fault is NOT a Transform Fault

Strike-slip fault vs transform-fault

Transform faults can be distinguished from the typical strike-slip faults because the sense of movement is in the opposite direction (see illustration). A strike-slip fault is a simple offset; however, a transform fault is formed between two different plates, each moving away from the spreading center of a divergent plate boundary. When you look at the transform fault diagram, imagine the double line as a divergent plate boundary and visualize which way the diverging plates would be moving.

A smaller number of transform faults cut continental lithosphere. The most famous example of this is the San Andreas Fault Zone of western North America. The San Andreas connects a divergent boundary in the Gulf of California with the Cascadia subduction zone. Another example of a transform boundary on land is the Alpine Fault of New Zealand. Both the San Andreas Fault and the Alpine Fault are shown on our Interactive Plate Tectonics Map.

Publisher, Geology.com

More Plate Tectonics
  What Is The Moho?
  Gifts that Rock!
  Teaching Plate Tectonics
  What is the San Andreas Fault?
  Explore Plate Boundaries
  How Deep Does Magma Form
  The East Africa Rift System
  How did the Hawaiian Islands Form?

geology store

More From Geology.com:

Rock Gallery: Photos of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.
Geology gifts
Gifts that Rock! Find something for the rockhound on your holiday shopping list.
Ruby and Sapphire
Ruby and Sapphire are the 2nd and 3rd most popular colored stones in the United States.
Olivine is a rock-forming mineral found in the crust, the mantle, and in some meteorites.
Pictures of Opal: A collection of different types of opal from all around the world and Mars too!
Diamond Production
World Diamond Production leaders include: Russia, Botswana, Canada, Angola.
What is a Maar?
What is a Maar? The second most common volcanic landscape feature on Earth.
Topaz is a popular birthstone and the #8 mineral in the Mohs Hardness Scale.