Shallow structure and geomorphology along the offshore northern San Andreas Fault, Tomales Point to Fort Ross, California

Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
By:  and 



We mapped a poorly documented 35-km-long section of the northern San Andreas fault zone (NSAF) between Tomales Point and Fort Ross, California. Mapping is largely based on high-resolution seismic-reflection profiles (38 fault crossings), multibeam bathymetry, and onshore geology. NSAF strike in this section is nearly parallel to plate motion, characterized by a slight (~2°) northerly (transtensional) bend in the south between Tomales Bay and the Bodega isthmus, and a northwesterly (transpressional) ~5° bend in the north between the Bodega isthmus and Fort Ross. The southern transtensional bend is the northern part of the now-submerged, linear, ~50-km-long and 1- to 2-km-wide, "Tomales-Bodega valley." The valley floor is cut by a complex zone of subparallel, variably continuous fault strands and the deformed valley fill is an inferred mix of late Quaternary marine and nonmarine strata. In the northern part of this elongate valley, Holocene fault offset occurred on two fault strands about 740 m apart. The northern transpressional bend is characterized by narrow, elongate, asymmetric basins containing as much as 56 m of inferred latest Pleistocene to Holocene sediment. Between Bodega Head and Fort Ross, the gently dipping (~0.8°) shelf includes two large (4.8 and 5.9 km2) zones of sediment failure that we speculatively correlate with the 1906 San Francisco NSAF earthquake. Similar sediment-failure zones should be common along offshore reaches of the NSAF and other nearshore fault zones, but have apparent limited preservation potential. Onland geomorphic impacts of the mainly offshore NSAF include: (1) Northward upwarping of uplifted marine terraces in the transpressional zone north of Bodega Bay; and (2) Blocking of littoral sediment transport by uplifts on the west flank of the NSAF at Bodega Head and Tomales Point, resulting in rapidly accreting beaches and large coastal sand dune complexes.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Shallow structure and geomorphology along the offshore northern San Andreas Fault, Tomales Point to Fort Ross, California
Series title Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
DOI 10.1785/0120180158
Volume 109
Issue 3
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Seismological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 22 p.
First page 833
Last page 854
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Fort Ross, San Andreas Fault, Tomales Point
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details