Carlsbad, San Onofre, and San Mateo Fault Zones: Possible Right-Lateral Offset Along the Slope-Basin Transition, Offshore Southern California

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
James E Conrad, Peter Dartnell, Ray W Sliter, Holly F Ryan, Katherine L Maier and Daniel S Brothers, Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA, United States
Several poorly understood faults are exposed along the mid- and lower slope offshore southern California from Encinitas to San Clemente. From south to north, these faults have been referred to as the Carlsbad, San Onofre, and San Mateo fault zones, which are generally characterized as nearly vertical to steeply east-dipping faults with a reverse slip component. The U.S. Geological Survey collected high-resolution seismic reflection and bathymetric data from 2009-2012 to better characterize these faults. From offshore Encinitas to Oceanside, these data reveal a complex and variable fault zone that structurally controls the slope-basin transition. In this area, the faults show both reverse as well as normal offset, but may also include an unknown amount of strike-slip offset. North of Oceanside, however, faulting shows clear evidence of right-lateral slip, offsetting submarine channels near the base of the slope by approximately 60 m. North of these offset channels, the base of the slope bends about 30° to the west, following the trend of the San Mateo fault zone, but fault strands on strike with those that offset the channels trend obliquely up slope, appearing to merge with the Newport-Inglewood fault zone (NIFZ) on the shelf. These fault strands consist of several en echelon left-stepping segments separated by “pop-up” structures, which imply a significant component of right-lateral offset along this fault zone, and thus may serve to transfer right-lateral slip from faults along the base of the slope to the NIFZ. This fault zone also separates structures associated with the San Mateo fold and thrust belt to the west from undeformed slope sediments to the east. The existence of significant right-lateral slip on faults along the slope and slope-basin transition has implications for assessing seismic hazards associated with the NIFZ, and also provides constraints on possible reverse motion on the hypothesized Oceanside Thrust.