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Late Holocene earthquake history of the Brigham City segment of the Wasatch fault zone at the Hansen Canyon, Kotter Canyon, and Pearsons Canyon trench sites, Box Elder County, Utah

Special Study 142

This report is volume 22 in the series Paleoseismology of Utah
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Abstract

Of the five central segments of the Wasatch fault zone (WFZ) having evidence of recurrent Holocene surface-faulting earthquakes, the Brigham City segment (BCS) has the longest elapsed time since its most recent surface-faulting event (~2.1 kyr) compared to its mean recurrence time between events (~1.3 kyr). Thus, the BCS has the highest time-dependent earthquake probability of the central WFZ. We excavated trenches at three sites––the Kotter Canyon and Hansen Canyon sites on the north-central BCS and Pearsons Canyon site on the southern BCS––to determine whether a surface-faulting earthquake younger than 2.1 ka occurred on the BCS. Paleoseismic data for Hansen Canyon and Kotter Canyon confirm that the youngest earthquake on the north-central BCS occurred before 2 ka, consistent with previous north-central BCS investigations at Bowden Canyon and Box Elder Canyon. At Hansen Canyon, the most recent earthquake is constrained to 2.1–4.2 ka and had 0.6–2.5 m of vertical displacement. At Kotter Canyon, we found evidence for two events at 2.5 ± 0.3 ka and 3.5 ± 0.3 ka, with an average displacement per event of 1.9–2.3 m. Paleoseismic data from Pearsons Canyon, on the previously unstudied southern BCS, indicate that a post-2 ka earthquake ruptured this part of the segment. The Pearsons Canyon earthquake occurred at 1.2 ± 0.04 ka and had 0.1–0.8 m of vertical displacement, consistent with our observation of continuous, youthful scarps on the southern 9 km of the BCS having 1–2 m of late Holocene(?) surface offset. The 1.2-ka earthquake on the southern BCS likely represents rupture across the Weber–Brigham City segment boundary from the penultimate Weber-segment earthquake at about 1.1 ka. The Pearsons Canyon data result in a revised length of the BCS that has not ruptured since 2 ka (with time-dependent probability implications), and provide compelling evidence of at least one segment-boundary failure and multi-segment rupture on the central WFZ. Our paleoseismic investigations of the BCS clarify the timing, displacement, and extent of late Holocene earthquakes on the segment, and importantly, confirm the long elapsed time since the most recent earthquake on most of the BCS.

Geospatial Extents

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
Other Government Series
Title:
Late Holocene earthquake history of the Brigham City segment of the Wasatch fault zone at the Hansen Canyon, Kotter Canyon, and Pearsons Canyon trench sites, Box Elder County, Utah
Series title:
Special Study
Series number:
142
Year Published:
2012
Language:
English
Publisher:
Utah Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
Geologic Hazards Science Center
Description:
vii, 62 p.
Country:
United States
State:
Utah
County:
Box Elder County
Other Geospatial:
Hansen Canyon;Kotter Canyon;Pearsons Canyon