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Evidence for Two Surface Ruptures in the Past 500 Years on the San Andreas Fault at Frazier Mountain, California

Scott C. Lindvall, Thomas K. Rockwell, Timothy Dawson, John G. Helms, & Kristin D. Weaver

Published October 2002, SCEC Contribution #599

We conducted paleoseismic studies in a closed depression along the San Andreas fault on the north flank of Frazier Mountain near Frazier Park, California. We recognized two earthquake ruptures in our trench exposure and interpreted the most recent rupture, event 1, to represent the historical 1857 earthquake. We also exposed evidence of an earlier surface rupture, event 2, along an older group of faults that did not rerupture during event 1. Radiocarbon dating of the stratigraphy above and below the earlier event constrains its probable age to between A.D. 1460 and 1600. Because we documented continuous, unfaulted stratigraphy between the earlier event horizon and the youngest event horizon in the portion of the fault zone exposed, we infer event 2 to be the penultimate event. We observed no direct evidence of an 1812 earthquake in our exposures. However, we cannot preclude the presence of this event at our site due to limited age control in the upper part of the section and the possibility of other fault strands beyond the limits of our exposures. Based on overlapping age ranges, event 2 at Frazier Mountain may correlate with event B at the Bidart fan site in the Carrizo Plain to the northwest and events V and W4 at Pallett Creek and Wrightwood, respectively, to the southeast. If the events recognized at these multiple sites resulted from the same surface rupture, then it appears that the San Andreas fault has repeatedly failed in large ruptures similar in extent to 1857.

Lindvall, S. C., Rockwell, T. K., Dawson, T., Helms, J. G., & Weaver, K. D. (2002). Evidence for Two Surface Ruptures in the Past 500 Years on the San Andreas Fault at Frazier Mountain, California. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 92(7), 2689-2703. doi: 10.1785/0120000610.