Paleoseismic Investigations of the Walnut Site on the San Jacinto Fault

Open-File Report 2007-1437-O

Prepared in cooperation with the California Geological Survey and the Southern California Earthquake Center



The Walnut paleoseismic site is located along the northern San Jacinto fault about 3 km southeast of the San Bernardino, California city center (Figures 1, 2). More than 340 meters of trenches were excavated across the fault zone at this site as part of an Alquist-Priolo fault study (Figure 3). We photographed and logged the SE wall and most of the NE wall of trench 1, both walls of trenches 2 and 7, the NW walls of trenches 3 and 4 and the SE wall of trench 6. After carefully cleaning the trench walls we put up a 1m by 0.5m string and nail grid. For trenches 1, 2, 6, and 7, we photographed each 1m by 0.5m panel individually and photologged on these unrectified photos. These large-scale photos were later rectified to remove the distortion due to irregularities in the trench walls and slight distortion introduced by the camera lens. Field linework was then transferred to the rectified photomosaics. We also took a set of overview photographs for each trench taken from the top of the trench towards the opposite wall. We spliced together these overview photos to make photomosaics of all of the trenches. Because the photos were taken at a downward angle, there is significant distortion. Some of this distortion has been corrected: an attempt was made to keep horizontal grid lines horizontal and there has been some horizontal scaling to align vertical lines between benches. Although the string and nail grid spacing is 1 meter by 0.5 meter, because of the distortion in the photos and subsequent adjustments, the scale is variable along the benches, from bench to bench and from trench to trench for these overview mosaics. This report serves principally as a repository for the overview photomosaics. Sheet 1 shows the overview mosaics for both walls of trenches 1 and 2 along with some linework including most of the fault traces, a prominent unconformity within the fluvial deposits and the larger bodies of liquefied sand. Sheet 2 shows the overview mosaics for the SE wall of trench 3 and the NW wall of trench 4 along with photomosaics of both walls of trench 7 and the SE wall of trench 6 that were complied from the rectified, large scale photos. No linework has been portrayed on these photomosaics. Sheet 3 shows the overview mosaics of both walls of trench 1 with the locations of detrital charcoal samples that were collected. A later version of this report will contain photomosaics for trenches 1 and 2 compiled from the individual, fully rectified photos covering each 1m by 0.5m area with detailed linework superimposed. The trenches exposed a main, Holocene-active, fault zone about 5-12 m wide which juxtaposes Late Pleistocene (?) fluvial sand and gravel southwest of the fault against organic-rich, Holocene fine sand, silt and clay apparently deposited in a marsh. Most of the faults in the main zone appear to rupture to the ground surface making it impossible to resolve individual prehistoric earthquakes along this zone. However, the main fault zone is associated with a slight upwarp and growth strata associated with this folding has recorded evidence for at least 6 late-Holocene earthquakes. Deformation due to liquefaction is further evidence of large earthquakes at these horizons. The fine-grained Holocene deposits contain abundant detrital charcoal. We have so far dated 36 samples from 20 stratigraphic layers. We used 27 of these dates in an Oxcal chronological model in order to constrain the ages of the six earthquakes. Too few samples have so far been dated from the uppermost horizons so the ages of the two youngest earthquakes recorded at the site are poorly constrained. However, it appears that the youngest sediment at the site was deposited about 2000 years ago and the thick surface soil indicate that the two youngest earthquake recorded at the site may be about this old. The radiocarbon dates provide good constraints on the ages of the four older earthquakes (Table 1). The ages of these four earthquakes suggest an aver

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Paleoseismic Investigations of the Walnut Site on the San Jacinto Fault
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Version 1.0
Year Published:
Geological Survey (U.S.)
Contributing office(s):
Earthquake Hazards Program
3 Sheets: Sheet 1-108 x 36 inches, Sheet 2-84 x 36 inches, Sheet 3-96 x 36 inches
Larger Work Type:
Larger Work Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title:
Appendix O in The Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, Version 2 (UCERF 2)