Holocene surface-faulting earthquakes at the Spring Lake and North Creek Sites on the Wasatch Fault Zone: Evidence for complex rupture of the Nephi Segment

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Abstract

The Nephi segment of the Wasatch fault zone (WFZ) comprises two fault strands, the northern and southern strands, which have evidence of recurrent late Holocene surface-faulting earthquakes. We excavated paleoseismic trenches across these strands to refine and expand their Holocene earthquake chronologies; improve estimates of earthquake recurrence, displacement, and fault slip rate; and assess whether the strands rupture separately or synchronously in large earthquakes. Paleoseismic data from the Spring Lake site expand the Holocene record of earthquakes on the northern strand: at least five to seven earthquakes ruptured the Spring Lake site at 0.9 ± 0.2 ka (2σ), 2.9 ± 0.7 ka, 4.0 ± 0.5 ka, 4.8 ± 0.8 ka, 5.7 ± 0.8 ka, 6.6 ± 0.7 ka, and 13.1 ± 4.0 ka, yielding a Holocene mean recurrence of ~1.2–1.5 kyr and vertical slip rate of ~0.5–0.8 mm/yr. Paleoseismic data from the North Creek site help refine the Holocene earthquake chronology for the southern strand: at least five earthquakes ruptured the North Creek site at 0.2 ± 0.1 ka (2σ), 1.2 ± 0.1 ka, 2.6 ± 0.9 ka, 4.0 ± 0.1 ka, and 4.7 ± 0.7 ka, yielding a mean recurrence of 1.1–1.3 kyr and vertical slip rate of ~1.9–2.0 mm/yr. We compare these Spring Lake and North Creek data with previous paleoseismic data for the Nephi segment and report late Holocene mean recurrence intervals of ~1.0–1.2 kyr for the northern strand and ~1.1–1.3 kyr for the southern strand. The northern and southern strands have similar late Holocene earthquake histories, which allow for models of both independent and synchronous rupture. However, considering the earthquake timing probabilities and per-event vertical displacements, we have the greatest confidence in the simultaneous rupture of the strands, including rupture of one strand with spillover rupture to the other. Ultimately, our results improve the surface-faulting earthquake history of the Nephi segment and enhance our understanding of how structural barriers influence normal-fault rupture.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Title Holocene surface-faulting earthquakes at the Spring Lake and North Creek Sites on the Wasatch Fault Zone: Evidence for complex rupture of the Nephi Segment
Volume 28
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Utah Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) Geologic Hazards Science Center
Description 119 p.
Larger Work Title Paleoseismology of Utah
First page 1
Last page 119
Country United States
State Utah