The Owens Valley Fault Zone Eastern California and Surface Faulting Associated with the 1872 Earthquake

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Journal Article: The Owens Valley Fault Zone Eastern California and Surface Faulting Associated with the 1872 Earthquake

Abstract

The right-lateral Owens Valley fault zone in eastern California extends north about 1 00 km from Owens Lake to beyond Big Pine. It passes through Lone Pine near the eastern base of the Alabama Hills and follows the floor of Owens Valley northward to the Poverty Hills, where it steps 3 km to the left and continues northwest across Crater Mountain and through Big Pine. The fault has an overall strike of 340° and dip of 80°±15° ENE. Surface ruptures formed along the entire length of the fault zone at the time of the 1872 earthquake. The right-lateral component of offset in 1872 averaged 6±2 m and reached a maximum of about 10 m at Lone Pine. The subordinate vertical component, generally normal and down to the east, averaged 1 ±0.5m. Average and maximum net oblique-slip of 6.1 ±2.1 m and 11 m, respectively, indicate a seismic moment of 1 .8 to 4.4x1 0 27 dyne em and a moment magnitude of 7.5 to 7.7, slightly lower than previous estimates. Data from one site suggest an average slip rate for the Owens Valley fault zone of 1.5±1 mm/yr since 300 ka. Several other sites yield an average Holocene net slip rate of 2±1 mm/yr. The Owens Valley fault zone apparently has experienced three major Holocene earthquakes. The minimum average recurrence interval is 5,000 years at the subsidiary Lone Pine fault, whereas it is 3,300 to 5,000 years elsewhere along the Owens Valley fault zone. The prehistoric earthquakes are not dated, so an average recurrence interval need not apply. However, approximately equal amounts of displacement happened during each Holocene earthquake. The Owens Valley fault zone apparently accommodates some of the relative motion (dextral shear) between the North American and Pacific plates along a discrete structure. This shear occurs in the Walker Lane belt of strike-slip and normal faults within the mainly extensional Basin and Range Province. In Owens Valley, the displacement is partitioned between the Owens Valley fault zone and the nearby, subparallel, and purely normal range-front faults of the Sierra Nevada. Compared to the Owens Valley fault zone, these range-front normal faults are very discontinuous and have smaller Holocene dip-slip rates of 0.1 to 0.8 mm/yr. Contemporary activity on adjacent faults of such contrasting styles suggests large temporal fluctuations in the relative magnitudes of the maximum and intermediate principal stresses

while the extension direction remains consistently east-west

Authors 
Sarah Beanland and Malcolm M. Clark








Published Journal 
U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1982, 1994





DOI 
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Online 
Internet link for The Owens Valley Fault Zone Eastern California and Surface Faulting Associated with the 1872 Earthquake

Citation

Sarah Beanland,Malcolm M. Clark. 1994. The Owens Valley Fault Zone Eastern California and Surface Faulting Associated with the 1872 Earthquake. U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1982. 29.