Sedimentary signals of recent faulting along an old strand of the San Andreas Fault, USA

Julie C. Fosdick, & Kimberly D. Blisniuk

Published August 14, 2018, SCEC Contribution #8949

Continental transform fault systems are fundamental features in plate tectonics. These complex
systems often constitute multiple fault strands with variable spatio-temporal histories. Here, we reevaluate
the complex history of the San Andreas Fault along a restraining bend in southern California
(USA). The Mission Creek strand of the San Andreas Fault is a major geologic structure with ~90 km
of strike-slip displacement but is currently mapped as inactive. Quaternary deposits record sediment
dispersal across the fault from upland catchments and yield key markers of the fault’s displacement
history. Our sediment provenance analysis from the Deformed Gravels of Whitewater and the Cabezon
Fanglomerate provide detrital geochronologic and lithologic signatures of potential sources within
the San Bernardino Mountains and Little San Bernardino Mountains. Statistical analysis shows that
the Cabezon Fanglomerate is most compatible with the Mission Creek and Morongo Valley Canyon
sources, rather than the Whitewater Canyon as previously suggested. We propose that displacement
since deposition ~500–100 ka across the Mission Creek strand has separated these deposits from their
original sources. These findings challenge the current paradigm that the Mission Creek strand is inactive
and suggest that the fault continues to be a primary structure in accommodating deformation along the
Pacific-North American plate boundary.

Fosdick, J. C., & Blisniuk, K. D. (2018). Sedimentary signals of recent faulting along an old strand of the San Andreas Fault, USA. Scientific Reports, 8(1). doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-30622-3.

Related Projects & Working Groups
San Gorgonio Pass, SOSAF