During the 3 November 2002 Denali fault earthquake, surface rupture propagated through a small, old-growth forest in the Delta River valley and damaged many trees growing on the fault. Damage was principally the result of fault offset of tree roots and tilting of trees. Some trees were split by surface faults that intersected the base of their trunks or large taproots. A few trees appear to have been damaged by strong shaking. Many of the older trees damaged in 2002 were deformed and scarred. Some of these scarred trees exhibit past damage indicative of surface faulting and have abrupt changes in their annual ring patterns that coincide with the past damage. Annual ring counts from several of these older scarred trees indicate the damage was caused by surface rupture on the Denali fault in 1912. The only earthquake of sufficient magnitude that fits the requirements for timing and general location as recorded by the damaged trees is a widely felt Ms 7.2-7.4 earthquake on 6 July 1912 informally referred to as the 1912 Delta River earthquake. Seismologic data and intensity distribution for the 1912 Delta River earthquake indicate that its epicenter was within 60-90 km of the Delta River and that rupture probably propagated toward the west. Inferred fault length, displacement, and rupture direction suggest the 1912 rupture was probably largely coincident with the western, lower slip section of the 2002 rupture.
Additional publication details
Surface rupture on the Denali Fault interpreted from tree damage during the 1912 Delta river Mw 7.2-7.4 earthquake: Implications for the 2002 Denali Fault earthquake slip distribution