Geophysical Investigation of the Offshore Section of the Northern San Andreas Fault: Fault Zone Geometries, Shallow Deformation Patterns, and Holocene Sediment Distribution
Abstract:We mapped a ~120 km offshore section of the northern San Andreas Fault (NSAF) between Pt. Arena and Pt. Delgada using closely spaced seismic-reflection profiles, high-resolution multibeam bathymetry and marine magnetics data. This new dataset documents NSAF location and continuity, associated tectonic geomorphology, shallow stratigraphy and deformation. Variable deformation patterns in the generally narrow (~1-km-wide) fault zone are largely associated with fault trend and fault bends.
We have described four regions (Pt. Arena, Basin, Shelter Cove, and Mendocino) along and adjacent to the NSAF based on fault trend, deformation styles, seismic stratigraphy, and seafloor bathymetry. The NSAF in the southern region (Pt. Arena) of the survey area is imaged as an arcuate fault trace that changes ~15° (327° to 342°) from south to north over a distance of about 50 km. The NSAF in the middle two regions (Basin and Shelter Cove) passes through two acute fault bends (~9° and ~8°), resulting in both an asymmetric “lazy z” sedimentary basin and an uplifted rocky shoal ("Tolo Bank"). The northwestern region of the survey area (Mendocino) lies west of the NSAF and Shelter Cove, and includes an east-trending fault zone related to the Mendocino transform fault that extends onshore near Punta Gorda.
Using the densely spaced seismic-reflection profiles we have created an isopach map of Holocene sediment throughout the survey area. This isopach map has revealed thick sediment piles adjacent to coastal watersheds with high uplift rates.
We infer from fault geometries, local bathymetry/topography and aero/marine magneticsthat the NSAF zone transitions from a broadly distributed fault zone to a narrow fault zone over a short distance near Shelter Cove, Ca. At Shelter Cove the NSAF is characterized as a narrow, continuous fault. North of Shelter Cove the San Andreas likely terminates into a series of “horse tail” splay thrust faults known as the Kings Range Thrust. These observations allows for the NSAF near Shelter Cove, CA to accommodate significant slip, in agreement with paleoseismic studies and historical records.