SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF)A new explanation for colliding faults could help explain mysterious fault lines that have mystified geologists for decades. The new explanation could explain everything from the quake-prone faults of Southern California to dynamic crust beneath the snow-capped peak of K2 in the Himalayas.

The theory is deceptively simple: When two faults collide, instead of one breaking past another, they may just merge, like a zipper zipping up, said John Platt, a geologist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, here at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. [Photo Journal: The Gorgeous San Andreas Fault]

“It may solve some long-standing and intractable problems concerning the timing and displacement on faults,” Platt said in the presentation.

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