Style and rate of quaternary deformation of the Hosgri Fault Zone, offshore south-central coastal California

Bulletin 1995-BB

, , , , , and



The Hosgri Fault Zone is the southernmost component of a complex system of right-slip faults in south-central coastal California that includes the San Gregorio, Sur, and San Simeon Faults. We have characterized the contemporary style of faulting along the zone on the basis of an integrated analysis of a broad spectrum of data, including shallow high-resolution and deep penetration seismic reflection data; geologic and geomorphic data along the Hosgri and San Simeon Fault Zones and the intervening San Simeon/Hosgri pull-apart basin; the distribution and nature of near-coast seismicity; regional tectonic kinematics; and comparison of the Hosgri Fault Zone with worldwide strike-slip, oblique-slip, and reverse-slip fault zones. These data show that the modern Hosgri Fault Zone is a convergent right-slip (transpressional) fault having a late Quaternary slip rate of 1 to 3 mm/yr. Evidence supporting predominantly strike-slip deformation includes (1) a long, narrow, linear zone of faulting and associated deformation; (2) the presence of asymmetric flower structures; (3) kinematically consistent localized extensional and compressional deformation at releasing and restraining bends or steps, respectively, in the fault zone; (4) changes in the sense and magnitude of vertical separation both along trend of the fault zone and vertically within the fault zone; (5) strike-slip focal mechanisms along the fault trace; (6) a distribution of seismicity that delineates a high-angle fault extending through the seismogenic crust; (7) high ratios of lateral to vertical slip along the fault zone; and (8) the separation by the fault of two tectonic domains (offshore Santa Maria Basin, onshore Los Osos domain) that are undergoing contrasting styles of deformation and orientations of crustal shortening. The convergent component of slip is evidenced by the deformation of the early-late Pliocene unconformity. In characterizing the style of faulting along the Hosgri Fault Zone, we assessed alternative tectonic models by evaluating (1) the cumulative effects of multiple deformational episodes that can produce complex, difficult-to-interpret fault geometries, patterns, and senses of displacement; (2) the difficult imaging of high-angle fault planes and horizontal fault separations on seismic reflection data; and (3) the effects of strain partitioning that yield coeval strike-slip faults and associated fold and thrust belts.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Style and rate of quaternary deformation of the Hosgri Fault Zone, offshore south-central coastal California
Series title:
Series number:
Year Published:
37 p.
Larger Work Type:
Larger Work Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title:
Evolution of Sedimentary Basins/Offshore Oil and Gas Investigations--Santa Maria Province