Character and Implications of a Newly Identified Creeping Strand of the San Andreas fault NE of Salton Sea, Southern California

Susanne U. Janecke, & Daniel Markowski

Accepted 2015, SCEC Contribution #7082

The overdue earthquake on the Coachella section, San Andreas fault (SAF), the model ShakeOut earthquake, and the conflict between cross-fault models involving the Extra fault array and mapped shortening in the Durmid Hill area motivate new analyses at the southern SAF tip. Geologic mapping, LiDAR, seismic reflection, magnetic and gravity datasets, and aerial photography confirm the existence of the East Shoreline strand (ESS) of the SAF southwest of the main trace of the SAF.We mapped the 15 km long ESS, in a band northeast side of the Salton Sea. Other data suggest that the ESS continues N to the latitude of the Mecca Hills, and is >35 km long.The ESS cuts and folds upper Holocene beds and appears to creep, based on discovery of large NW-striking cracks in modern beach deposits. The two traces of the SAF are parallel and ~0.5 to ~2.5 km apart.Groups of east, SE, and ENE-striking strike-slip cross-faults connect the master dextral faults of the SAF. There are few sinistral-normal faults that could be part of the Extra fault array. The 1-km wide ESS contains short, discontinuous traces of NW-striking dextral-oblique faults. These en-echelon faults bound steeply dipping Pleistocene beds, cut out section, parallel tight NW-trending folds, and produced growth folds. Beds commonly dip toward the ESS on both sides, in accord with persistent NE-SW shortening across the ESS. The dispersed fault-fold structural style of the ESS is due to decollements in faulted mud-rich Pliocene to Holocene sediment and ramps and flats along the strike-slip faults. A sheared ladder-like geometric model of the two master dextral strands of the SAF and their intervening cross-faults, best explains the field relationships and geophysical datasets. Contraction across >40 km2 of the southernmost SAF zone in the Durmid Hills suggest that interaction of active structures in the SAF zone may inhibit the nucleation of large earthquakes in this region. The ESS may cross the northern Coachella Valley to join the blind Palm Spring dextral fault- a source of microearthquakes and differential subsidence. The ESS may also continue north parallel to the margin of the Salton Trough or have both a NW and NE branch. The risk of a future large earthquake directly beneath the greater Palm Springs metropolitan area may be larger if the first or last options are correct.

Janecke, S. U., & Markowski, D. (2015). Character and Implications of a Newly Identified Creeping Strand of the San Andreas fault NE of Salton Sea, Southern California. Poster Presentation at 2015 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting.