A 3700 year paleoseismic record from the northern San Jacinto fault and implications for joint rupture of the San Jacinto and San Andreas faults.

Nate W. Onderdonk, Sally F. McGill, & Thomas K. Rockwell

Accepted June 1, 2018, SCEC Contribution #6238

The San Andreas and San Jacinto faults are the primary plate boundary structures in southern California and present a large earthquake hazard for the region. They approach each other in the Cajon Pass area between the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains where the northern end of the San Jacinto fault forms a 2 km-wide releasing step with the San Andreas fault. In this paper we use paleoseismic data from sites on the San Jacinto and San Andreas faults near their juncture to evaluate spatial and temporal patterns of surface rupture between these major structures in the North American- Pacific transform plate boundary. We present a new 3700 year paleoseismic record from the northern San Jacinto fault at Mystic Lake where trench excavations exposed evidence for at least 16 surface ruptures. A sedimentary gap in our trench exposures separates 3 ruptures in the oldest part of the record from 13 ruptures during the past 2000 years. For the past 2000 years, the mean recurrence times varied from 86 to 312 years, with a mean recurrence interval of 160 years. This rate of surface rupture is roughly equal to that of the southern San Andreas fault south of the Cajon Pass juncture, but half that of the San Andreas fault north of the juncture, indicating that coseismic strain on the San Andreas fault is split between the southern San Andreas and San Jacinto faults south of Cajon Pass. Comparison of the last 2000 years of the Mystic Lake record to similar paleoseismic records from nearby sections of the San Andreas fault suggests that: (1) the current open interval on these two faults in the study area is longer than their average recurrence intervals, but that similar intervals of quiescence have occurred in the past 2000 years; (2) the San Andreas and San Jacinto faults have probably ruptured together multiple times in the past 2000 years; and (3) a joint rupture of the San Jacinto fault with the Mojave section of the San Andreas fault may be a more likely source of a major earthquake in southern California than a rupture on the San Andreas fault from the Mojave to the southern end of the fault.

Citation
Onderdonk, N. W., McGill, S. F., & Rockwell, T. K. (2018). A 3700 year paleoseismic record from the northern San Jacinto fault and implications for joint rupture of the San Jacinto and San Andreas faults.. Geosphere, (accepted).


Related Projects & Working Groups
SoSAFE