Exploratory trench across the Pleasant Valley Fault, Nevada

Open-File Report 80-1245

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An exploratory trench was excavated across the 1915 trace of the Pleasant Valley fault 60 km south of Winnemucca, Nevada, to get information on the history of recent displacements on a fault that had produced a major earthquake in historic time, and on the appearance of such a fault in a trench cut in gravels, sands and silts of an alluvial fan. The trench exposed 16 mappable sedimentary units and four soils, including three buried paleosols. The ages of the mapped units could not be narrowly defined but they are of late Quaternary age. Some rodent bones suggest a possible age of about 5,000 years for one of the higher stratigraphic units. The fault zone is very clearly represented in the trench, and, to the full 4-m depth of the trench, consists of a zone of fault rubble as much as 1.5 m wide. Two fractures outside the fault rubble show no vertical displacement. In addition to the fault rubble, the fault is conspicuous because several of the mapped units terminate abruptly against the rubble zone, and because the sediments southeast of the zone are coarser-grained than the sediments northwest of the zone. Maximum vertical component of the 1915 displacement was estimated to be 0.4–0.6 m based on topography and 0.5–0.6 m based on displacement of stratigraphic units including soils. Two or more episodes of vertical displacement, one of about 0.3 m and another totaling at least 1.15 m prior to 1915 are recorded and may have occurred in the last 5,000 years. These and other displacement events prior to 1915 are poorly dated, but that several did occur in late Pleistocene and Holocene time is certain. Lack of wedge-shaped deposits or concentrations of large clasts adjacent to the fault suggest that all displacements were produced in small increments of probably less than one meter each.

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USGS Numbered Series
Exploratory trench across the Pleasant Valley Fault, Nevada
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey,
Contributing office(s):
Menlo Park Science Center, Earthquake Science Center
24 p.; Tables; Figures; 1 Plate: 23.70 x 11 inches
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United States
Other Geospatial:
Pleasant Valley Fault
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