Determining earthquake recurrence intervals from deformational structures in young lacustrine sediments




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Examination of the silty sediments in the lower Van Normal reservoir after the 1971 San Fernando, California earthquake revealed three zones of deformational structures in the 1-m-thick sequence of sediments exposed over about 2 km2 of the reservoir bottom. These zones are correlated with moderate earthquakes that shook the San Fernando area in 1930, 1952, and 1971. The success of this study, coupled with the experimental formation of deformational structures similar to those of the Van Norman reservoir, led to a search for similar structures in Pleistocene and Holocene lakes and lake sediments in other seismically active areas. Thus, studies have been started in Pleistocene and Holocene silty and sandy lake sediments in the Imperial Valley, southeastern California; Clear Lake, in northern California; and the Puget Sound area of Washington. The Imperial Valley study has yielded spectacular results: five zones of structures in the upper 10 m of Late Holocene sediments near Brawley have been correlated over an area of approximately 100 km2, using natural outcrops. These structures are similar to those of the Van Norman reservoir and are interpreted to represent at least five moderate to large earthquakes that affected the southern Imperial Valley area during Late Holocene time. The Clear Lake study has provided ambiguous results with respect to determination of earthquake recurrence intervals because the cores studied are in clayey rich in organic material sediments that have low liquefaction potential. A study of Late Pleistocene varved glacio-lacustrine sediments has been started in the Puget Sound area of Washington, and thirteen sites have been examined. One has yielded 18.75 m of sediments that contains 1,804 varves and fourteen deformed zones interpreted as being caused by earthquake, because they are identical to structures formed experimentally by simulated seismic shaking. Correlation of deformational structures with seismic events is based on: 1. (1) proximity to presently active seismic zones; 2. (2) presence of potentially liquefiable sediments; 3. (3) similarity to structures formed experimentally; 4. (4) small-scale internal structures within deformed zones that suggest liquefaction; 5. (5) structures restricted to single stratigraphic intervals; 6. (6) zones of structures correlatable over large areas; and 7. (7) absence of detectable influence by slopes, slope failures, or other sedimentological, biological, or deformational processes. ?? 1975.

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Determining earthquake recurrence intervals from deformational structures in young lacustrine sediments
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