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Structure and mechanics of the Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault step-over, San Francisco Bay, California

Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
By: , and 

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Abstract

A dilatational step-over between the right-lateral Hayward and Rodgers Creek faults lies beneath San Pablo Bay in the San Francisco Bay area. A key seismic hazard issue is whether an earthquake on one of the faults could rupture through the step-over, enhancing its maximum possible magnitude. If ruptures are terminated at the step-over, then another important issue is how strain transfers through the step. We developed a combined seismic reflection and refraction cross section across south San Pablo Bay and found that the Hayward and Rodgers Creek faults converge to within 4 km of one another near the surface, about 2 km closer than previously thought. Interpretation of potential field data from San Pablo Bay indicated a low likelihood of strike-slip transfer faults connecting the Hayward and Rodgers Creek faults. Numerical simulations suggest that it is possible for a rupture to jump across a 4-km fault gap, although special stressing conditions are probably required (e.g., Harris and Day, 1993, 1999). Slip on the Hayward and Rodgers Creek faults is building an extensional pull-apart basin that could contain hazardous normal faults. We investigated strain in the pull-apart using a finite-element model and calculated a ???0.02-MPa/yr differential stressing rate in the step-over on a least-principal-stress orientation nearly parallel to the strike-slip faults where they overlap. A 1- to 10-MPa stress-drop extensional earthquake is expected on normal faults oriented perpendicular to the strike-slip faults every 50-500 years. The last such earthquake might have been the 1898 M 6.0-6.5 shock in San Pablo Bay that apparently produced a small tsunami. Historical hydrographic surveys gathered before and after 1898 indicate abnormal subsidence of the bay floor within the step-over, possibly related to the earthquake. We used a hydrodynamic model to show that a dip-slip mechanism in north San Pablo Bay is the most likely 1898 rupture scenario to have caused the tsunami. While we find no strike-slip transfer fault between the Hayward and Rodgers Creek faults, a normal-fault link could enable through-going segmented rupture of both strike-slip faults and may pose an independent hazard of M ???6 earthquakes like the 1898 event.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Structure and mechanics of the Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault step-over, San Francisco Bay, California
Series title Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Volume 93
Issue 5
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher Seismological Society of America
Contributing office(s) San Francisco Bay-Delta, Pacific Regional Director's Office
Description 14 p.
First page 2187
Last page 2200
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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