Active faulting in the Inner California Borderlands: new constraints from high-resolution multichannel seismic and multibeam bathymetric data.
Abstract:Geodetic data indicate that faults offshore of Southern California accommodate 6-8 mm/yr of dextral Pacific-North American relative plate motion. In the Inner California Borderlands (ICB), modern strike-slip deformation is overprinted on topography formed during plate boundary reorganization 30-15 Ma. Despite its proximity to urban Southern California, the hazard posed by active faults in the ICB remains poorly understood.
We acquired a 4000-line-km regional grid of high-resolution, 2D multichannel seismic (MCS) reflection data and multibeam bathymetry to examine the fault architecture and tectonic evolution of the ICB. We interpret the MCS data using a sequence stratigraphic approach to establish a chronostratigraphy and identify discrete episodes of deformation. We present our results in a regional fault model that distinguishes active deformation from older structures.
Significant differences exist between our model of ICB deformation and existing models. Mounting evidence suggests a westward temporal migration of slip between faults in the ICB. In the eastern ICB, slip on the Newport-Inglewood/Rose Canyon fault and the neighboring Coronado Bank fault (CBF) diminishes to the north and appears to decrease over time. Undeformed Late Pliocene sediments overlie the northern extent of the CBF and the breakaway zone of the purported Oceanside Blind Thrust. Therefore, CBF slip rate estimates based on linkage with the Palos Verdes fault to the north are unwarranted. Deformation along the San Mateo, San Onofre, and Carlsbad trends is best explained as localized deformation resulting from geometrical complexities in a dextral strike-slip fault system. In the western ICB, the San Diego Trough fault (SDTF) offsets young sediments between the US/Mexico border and the eastern margin of Avalon Knoll, where the fault is spatially coincident with the San Pedro Basin fault (SPBF). Farther west, the San Clemente fault (SCF) has a strong linear bathymetric expression. The length and simplicity of the SDTF and the SCF traces suggest that these faults may accommodate the majority of the contemporary ICB dextral deformation. Kinematic linkage between the SDTF and the SPBF increases the potential rupture length for earthquakes on either fault and may allow events nucleating on the SDTF to propagate much closer to the LA Basin.