The northward migration of the Mendocino triple junction has resulted in a fundamental modification of the crust of coastal California. As a consequence of viscous coupling between the southern edge of the Gorda slab and the base of the North American crust beneath the Coast Ranges of central and northern California, the crust of coastal California was first thickened and then thinned. This viscous coupling and ephemeral crustal thickening has produced a distinctive pattern of uplift that allows us to map the three-dimensional extent of crustal modification. This pattern of crustal deformation has combined with the strain field of the developing San Andreas fault system to produce the observed pattern of near-surface deformation. The rapid rise in heat flow south of the triple junction observed in the northern Coast Ranges is a direct consequence of development and removal of the crustal welt that migrated with the triple junction.