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Quaternary Slip History for the Agua Blanca Fault, northern Baja California, Mexico

Peter O. Gold, Whitney M. Behr, Thomas K. Rockwell, & John M. Fletcher

Published July 29, 2017, SCEC Contribution #7360, 2017 SCEC Annual Meeting Poster #164

The Agua Blanca Fault (ABF) is the primary structure accommodating San Andreas-related right-lateral slip across the Peninsular Ranges of northern Baja California. Activity on this fault influences offshore faults that parallel the Pacific coast from Ensenada to Los Angeles and is a potential threat to communities in northern Mexico and southern California. We present a detailed Quaternary slip history for the ABF, including new quantitative constraints on geologic slip rates, slip-per-event, the timing of most recent earthquake, and the earthquake recurrence interval. Cosmogenic 10Be exposure dating of clasts from offset fluvial geomorphic surfaces at 2 sites located along the western, and most active, section of the ABF yield preliminary slip rate estimates of 2-4 mm/yr and ~3 mm/yr since ~20 ka and ~2 ka, respectively. Fault zone geomorphology preserved at the younger site provides evidence for right-lateral surface displacements measuring ~2.5 m in the past two ruptures. Luminescence dating of an offset alluvial fan at a third site is in progress, but is expected to yield a slip rate relevant to the past ~10 kyr. Adjacent to this third site, we excavated 2 paleoseismic trenches across a sag pond formed by a right step in the fault. Preliminary radiocarbon dates indicate that the 4 surface ruptures identified in the trenches occurred in the past 6 kyr, although additional dating should clarify earthquake timing and the mid-Holocene to present earthquake recurrence interval, as well as the likely date of the most recent earthquake. Our new slip rate estimates are somewhat lower than, but comparable within error to, previous geologic estimates based on soil morphology and geodetic estimates from GPS, but the new record of surface ruptures exposed in the trenches is the most complete and comprehensively dated earthquake history yet determined for this fault. Together with new and existing mapping of tectonically generated geomorphology along the ABF, our constraints show that contrary to some theories of fault interaction and activity for this section of the San Andreas system, the Agua Blanca Fault has been active over the late Holocene, and should be considered as a potential source of seismic hazard.

Key Words
Agua Blanca Fault, Quaternary geochronology, slip rates, paleoseismology, San Andreas, earthquake hazard

Gold, P. O., Behr, W. M., Rockwell, T. K., & Fletcher, J. M. (2017, 07). Quaternary Slip History for the Agua Blanca Fault, northern Baja California, Mexico. Poster Presentation at 2017 SCEC Annual Meeting.

Related Projects & Working Groups
San Andreas Fault System (SAFS)