Quaternary crustal deformation along a major branch of the San Andreas fault in central California


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Deformed marine terraces and alluvial deposits record Quaternary crustal deformation along segments of a major, seismically active branch of the San Andreas fault which extends 190 km SSE roughly parallel to the California coastline from Bolinas Lagoon to the Point Sur area. Most of this complex fault zone lies offshore (mapped by others using acoustical techniques), but a 4-km segment (Seal Cove fault) near Half Moon Bay and a 26-km segment (San Gregorio fault) between San Gregorio and Point Ano Nuevo lie onshore. At Half Moon Bay, right-lateral slip and N-S horizontal compression are expressed by a broad, synclinal warp in the first (lowest: 125 ka?) and second marine terraces on the NE side of the Seal Cove fault. This structure plunges to the west at an oblique angle into the fault plane. Linear, joint0controlled stream courses draining the coastal uplands are deflected toward the topographic depression along the synclinal axis where they emerge from the hills to cross the lowest terrace. Streams crossing the downwarped part of this terrace adjacent to Half Moon Bay are depositing alluvial fans, whereas streams crossing the uplifted southern limb of the syncline southwest of the bay are deeply incised. Minimum crustal shortening across this syncline parallel to the fault is 0.7% over the past 125 ka, based on deformation of the shoreline angle of the first terrace. Between San Gregorio and Point Ano Nuevo the entire fault zone is 2.5-3.0 km wide and has three primary traces or zones of faulting consisting of numerous en-echelon and anastomozing secondary fault traces. Lateral discontinuities and variable deformation of well-preserved marine terrace sequences help define major structural blocks and document differential motions in this area and south to Santa Cruz. Vertical displacement occurs on all of the fault traces, but is small compared to horizontal displacement. Some blocks within the fault zone are intensely faulted and steeply tilted. One major block 0.8 km wide east of Point Ano Nuevo is downdropped as much as 20 m between two primary traces to form a graben presently filling with Holocene deposits. Where exposed in the sea cliff, these deposits are folded into a vertical attitude adjacent to the fault plane forming the south-west margin of the graben. Near Point Ano Nuevo sedimentary deposits and fault rubble beneath a secondary high-angle reverse fault record three and possibly six distinct offset events in the past 125 ka. The three primary fault traces offset in a right-lateral sense the shoreline angles of the two lowest terraces east of Point Ano Nuevo. The rates of displacement on the three traces are similar. The average rate of horizontal offset across the entire zone is between 0.63 and 1.30 cm/yr, based on an amino-acid age estimate of 125 ka for the first terrace, and a reasonable guess of 200-400 ka for the second terrace. Rates of this magnitude make up a significant part of the deficit between long-term relative plate motions (estimated by others to be about 6 cm/yr) and present displacement rates along other parts of the San Andreas fault system (about 3.2 cm/yr). Northwestward tilt and convergence of six marine terraces northeast of Ano Nuevo (southwest side of the fault zone) indicate continuous gentle warping associated with right-lateral displacement since early or middle Pleistocene time. Minimum local crustal shortening of this block parallel to the fault is 0.2% based on tilt of the highest terrace. Five major, evenly spaced terraces southeast of Ano Nuevo on the southwest flank of Mt. Ben Lomond (northeast side of the fault zone) rise to an elevation of 240 m, indicating relatively constant uplift (about 0.19 m/ka and southwestward tilt since Early or Middle Pleistocene time (Bradley and Griggs, 1976). ?? 1979.

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Quaternary crustal deformation along a major branch of the San Andreas fault in central California
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