A belt of northwardly younging Neogene and Quaternary volcanic rocks and hydrothermal vein systems, together with a distinctive Cretaceous terrane of the Franciscan Complex (the Permanente terrane), exhibits about 160 to 170 km of cumulative dextral offset across faults of the East San Francisco Bay Region (ESFBR) fault system. The offset hydrothermal veins and volcanic rocks range in age from .01 Ma at the northwest end to about 17.6 Ma at the southeast end. In the fault block between the San Andreas and ESFBR fault systems, where volcanic rocks are scarce, hydrothermal vein system ages clearly indicate that the northward younging thermal overprint affected these rocks beginning about 18 Ma. The age progression of these volcanic rocks and hydrothermal vein systems is consistent with previously proposed models that relate northward propagation of the San Andreas transform to the opening of an asthenospheric window beneath the North American plate margin in the wake of subducting lithosphere. The similarity in the amount of offset of the Permanente terrane across the ESFBR fault system to that derived by restoring continuity in the northward younging age progression of volcanic rocks and hydrothermal veins suggests a model in which 80-110 km of offset are taken up 8 to 6 Ma on a fault aligned with the Bloomfield-Tolay-Franklin-Concord-Sunol-Calaveras faults. An additional 50-70 km of cumulative slip are taken up ??? 6 Ma by the Rogers Creek-Hayward and Concord-Franklin-Sunol-Calaveras faults. An alternative model in which the Permanente terrane is offset about 80 km by pre-Miocene faults does not adequately restore the distribution of 8-12 Ma volcanic rocks and hydrothermal veins to a single northwardly younging age trend. If 80-110 km of slip was taken up by the ESFBR fault system between 8 and 6 Ma, dextral slip rates were 40-55 mm/yr. Such high rates might occur if the ESFBR fault system rather than the San Andreas fault acted as the transform margin at this time. Major transpression across the boundary between the Pacific and North American plates at about 3 to 5 Ma would have resulted in the transfer of significant slip back to the San Francisco Peninsula segment of the San Andreas fault. Since that time, the ESFBR fault system has continued to slip at rates of 11-14 mm/yr. If this interpretation is valid, the ESFBR fault system was the Pacific-North American plate boundary between 8 and 6 Ma, and this boundary has migrated both eastward and westward with time, in response to changing plate margin geometry and plate motions.
Additional publication details
Large-scale right-slip displacement on the East San Francisco Bay Region fault system, California: Implications for location of late Miocene to Pliocene Pacific plate boundary