Holocene Geologic Slip Rate for the Banning Strand of the Southern San Andreas Fault near San Gorgonio Pass, Southern California
Thursday, 18 December 2014
We present the first Holocene geologic slip rate for the Banning strand of the southern San Andreas Fault in southern California. The southern San Andreas Fault splays into the sub-parallel Banning and Mission Creek strands in the northwestern Coachella Valley, and although it has long been surmised that the Banning strand eventually accommodates the majority of displacement and transfers it into San Gorgonio Pass, until now it has been uncertain how slip is actually partitioned between these two fault strands. Our new slip rate measurement, critically located at the northwestern end of the Banning strand, overlaps within errors with the published rate for the southern San Andreas Fault measured at Biskra Palms Oasis. This indicates that the majority of southern San Andreas Fault displacement transfers from the southeastern Mission Creek strand northwest to the Banning strand and into San Gorgonio Pass. Our result corroborates the UCERF3 hazard model, and is consistent with most previous interpretations of how slip is partitioned between the Banning and Mission Creek fault strands. To measure this slip rate, we used B4 airborne LiDAR to identify the apex of an alluvial fan offset laterally 30 ± 5 m from its source. We calculated the depositional age of the fan using 10
Be in-situ cosmogenic exposure dating of 5 cobbles and a depth profile. We calculated a most probable fan age of 4.0 +2.0/-1.6 ka (1σ) by combining the inheritance-corrected cobble ages assuming Gaussian uncertainty. However, the probability density function yielded a multi-peaked distribution, which we attribute to variable 10
Be inheritance in the cobbles, so we favor the depth profile age of 2.2-3.6 ka. Combined, these measurements yield a late Holocene slip rate for the Banning strand of the southern San Andreas Fault of 11.1 +3.1/-3.3 mm/yr. This slip rate does not preclude possibility that some slip transfers north along the Mission Creek strand and the Garnet Hill fault, but it does confirm that the Banning strand has been the most probable rupture path for earthquakes nucleated on the southern San Andreas Fault over the past few thousand years, and is likely to remain so in the near future. This clarification of slip partitioning within the northwest Coachella Valley is timely given that the southern San Andreas Fault is considered overdue for a large earthquake.