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Geomorphic and geologic evidence for slip along the San Bernardino strand of the San Andreas Fault System through the San Gorgonio Pass structural knot, southern California

Katherine J. Kendrick, & Jonathan C. Matti

Published August 15, 2017, SCEC Contribution #7775, 2017 SCEC Annual Meeting Poster #117

The San Gorgonio Pass (SGP) region of southern California represents an extraordinarily complex section of the San Andreas Fault (SAF) zone, often referred to as a structural knot. Complexity is expressed both structurally and geomorphically, and arises because multiple strands of the SAF have evolved here in Quaternary time. Our integration of geologic and geomorphic analyses led to recognition of fault-bounded blocks characterized by crystalline rocks that have similar physical properties. Hence, any morphometric differences in hypsometric analysis, slope, slope distribution, texture, and stream-power measurements and discontinuities reflect landscape response to tectonic processes rather than differences in lithology. We propose that the differing morphometry of the two blocks on either side of the San Bernardino strand (SBS) of the SAF, the high-standing Kitching Peak block to the east and the lower, more subdued Pisgah Peak block to the west, strongly suggests that the blocks experienced different uplift histories. These differing uplift histories, in turn suggests that dextral slip occurred over a long time interval on the SBS—despite long-lived controversy raised by the fact that, at the surface, a throughgoing trace of the SBS is not present at this location. A different tectonic history between the two blocks is consistent with the gravity data which indicate that low-density rocks underthrusting the Kitching Peak block are absent below the Pisgah Peak block (Langenheim et al., 2015). Throughgoing slip on the SBS implied by geomorphic differences between the two blocks is also consistent with displaced geologic and geomorphic features. We find compelling evidence for discrete offsets of between ~ 0.6 and 6 km of dextral slip on the SBS, including offset of fluvial and landslide deposits, and beheaded drainages. Although we lack numerical age control for the offset features, the degree of soil development associated with displaced landforms suggests that the SBS has had a longer geologic history than previously proposed, and that this fault strand may have experienced episodic activity. Landscape evolution and geologic evidence together require that dextral slip on the SAF must have continued through the SGP structural knot during an extended interval in the past.

Key Words
San Andreas Fault, San Gorgonio Pass, geologic fault offset, geomorphic analysis

Kendrick, K. J., & Matti, J. C. (2017, 08). Geomorphic and geologic evidence for slip along the San Bernardino strand of the San Andreas Fault System through the San Gorgonio Pass structural knot, southern California. Poster Presentation at 2017 SCEC Annual Meeting.

Related Projects & Working Groups
Earthquake Geology