Steady, modest slip over multiple earthquake cycles on the Owens Valley and Little Lake fault zones
Thursday, 17 December 2015: 14:25
302 (Moscone South)
A comprehensive picture of current plate-boundary deformation requires integration of short-term geodetic records with longer-term geologic strain. Comparing rates of deformation across these time intervals highlights potential time-dependencies in both geodetic and geologic records and yields critical insight into the earthquake deformation process. The southern Walker Lane Belt in eastern California represents one location where short-term strain recorded by geodesy apparently outpaces longer-term geologic fault slip measured from displaced rocks and landforms. This discrepancy persists both for individual structures and across the width of the deforming zone, where ~1 cm/yr of current dextral shear exceeds Quaternary slip rates summed across individual faults. The Owens Valley and Little Lake fault systems form the western boundary of the southern Walker Lane and host a range of published slip rate estimates from ~1 – 7 mm/yr over varying time intervals based on both geodetic and geologic measurements. New analysis of offset geomorphic piercing lines from airborne lidar and field measurements along the Owens Valley fault provides a snapshot of deformation during individual earthquakes and over many seismic cycles. Viewed in context of previously reported ages from pluvial and other landforms in Owens Valley, these offsets suggest slip rates of ~0.6 – 1.6 mm/yr over the past 103 – 105 years. Such rates agree with similar estimates immediately to the south on the Little Lake fault, where lidar measurements indicate dextral slip averaging ~0.6 – 1.3 mm/yr over comparable time intervals. Taken together, these results suggest steady, modest slip in the absence of significant variations over the Mid-to-Late Quaternary for a ~200 km span of the southwestern Walker Lane. Our findings argue against the presence of long-range fault interactions and slip-rate variations for this portion of the larger, regional fault network. This result also suggests that faster slip-rate estimates from geodetic measurements reflect transients over much shorter time scales. Additionally, the persistence of relatively faster geodetic shear in comparison with time-averaged fault slip leaves open the possibility of significant off-fault deformation or slip on subsidiary structures across the Owens Valley.