Airborne laser mapping confirms that Holocene active faults traverse the Puget Sound metropolitan area, northwestern continental United States. The mapping, which detects forest-floor relief of as little as 15 cm, reveals scarps along geophysical lineaments that separate areas of Holocene uplift and subsidence. Along one such line of scarps, we found that a fault warped the ground surface between A.D. 770 and 1160. This reverse fault, which projects through Tacoma, Washington, bounds the southern and western sides of the Seattle uplift. The northern flank of the Seattle uplift is bounded by a reverse fault beneath Seattle that broke in A.D. 900-930. Observations of tectonic scarps along the Tacoma fault demonstrate that active faulting with associated surface rupture and ground motions pose a significant hazard in the Puget Sound region.
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Holocene fault scarps near Tacoma, Washington, USA