The continental shelf west of San Francisco, California is divided into two structural provinces along the offshore extension of the Seal Cove fault, the Farallon and Golden Gate platforms. The Farallon platform lies west of the Seal Cove fault and is characterized by a thick sequence of Tertiary sediments with a maximum thickness of 3.5 km. These sediments are bounded at the edge of the continental shelf by a ridge of Cretaceous granitic rock which crops out at the Farallon Islands. The granitic basement is vertically displaced along the eastern flank of the granitic ridge and along two high angle reverse faults located near Point Reyes. The Point Reyes fault trends east-west and has possibly offset the granitic basement 1500 meters since late Pliocene time. Two northwest trending anticlines lie south of the Point Reyes fault. The eastern boundary of the Tertiary basin is delineated by a structural high composed of deformed basin sediments. This structural high is truncated at the Seal Cove fault. On the Golden Gate platform, the San Andreas fault zone is marked by a near surface graben, showing a maximum vertical displacement of 20 meters, and by a wider linear depression observed to a depth of 700 meters. The Pilarcitos fault continues offshore and joins the San Andreas fault south of Bolinas.
The development of the present Tertiary basin under the continental shelf commenced in late Miocene time with. the initial uplift of the Farallon ridge and the compression of the eastern basin margin. Strike-slip faulting on the seal Cove fault in Pliocene time truncated middle Tertiary sediments at the fault and thus formed a distinct structural boundary between the Farallon and Golden Gate platforms. Surface extensional features observed within the San Andreas fault zone are suggestive of strike-slip faulting in late Tertiary time.
The compressional high angle reverse faulting at Point Reyes occurred during the late Pliocene orogenic period of the California Coast Ranges.