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Neotectonics of the Big Sur Bend, San Gregorio‐Hosgri fault system, central California

May 31, 2018

The right‐lateral San Gregorio‐Hosgri fault system (SGHF) extends mainly offshore for about 400 km along the central California coast and is a major structure in the distributed transform margin of western North America. We mapped a poorly known 64‐km‐long section of the SGHF offshore Big Sur between Piedras Blancas and Point Sur using high‐resolution bathymetry, seismic reflection, and marine magnetic data. In this region, the SGHF is characterized by multiple strands, step overs, scarps and lineaments, shutter ridges, deflected drainages, and other geomorphic features consistent with strike‐slip faulting. Analysis of offset shelfbreak gullies suggest a lateral slip rate of about 3.35 mm/year. Vertical slip rates range as high as 0.8 to 1.2 mm/year. Lateral slip combined with high vertical slip rates result in a northwest decrease in shelf width, a northward increase in shelf and upper slope gradient, and progressive incision of submarine canyon heads. The SGHF between Point Sur and Piedras Blancas trends ~321° and forms a 105‐km‐long transpressive bend (the Big Sur Bend) between more north trending transtensional fault sections to the south (120 km long, ~336° trend) and north (180 km long, ~337° trend). This transpressional bend and SGHF splay faults have had a significant role in shaping the modern geomorphology of the central California coast, controlling or influencing the locations of mountainous uplifts, large coastal headlands, embayments, and rivers.

Publication Year 2018
Title Neotectonics of the Big Sur Bend, San Gregorio‐Hosgri fault system, central California
DOI 10.1029/2017TC004724
Authors Samuel Y. Johnson, Janet Watt, Stephen Hartwell, Jared W. Kluesner
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Tectonics
Index ID 70198049
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center