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Creep on the Sargent Fault over the past 50 yr from alignment arrays with implications for slip transfer between the Calaveras and San Andreas Faults, California

June 29, 2021

The 55‐km‐long Sargent fault connects the creeping Calaveras fault with the locked San Andreas fault through the Santa Cruz Mountains west of Gilroy, California. The position of the Sargent fault between these two faults may have implications for slip transfer and strain accumulation between a creeping and locked fault. The detection and measurement of creep on the Sargent fault would indicate where interseismic strain is accumulating adjacent to these neighboring faults. In 1969, two alignment arrays separated by 3.7 km were installed across the central section of the Sargent fault to investigate potential creep. These arrays were measured in 1970 and 1975, and comparison of these measurements yielded a creep rate of 3.4 ± 0.6 mm/yr across two fault strands in the northern array; results from the southern array were never published. In 2019 and 2020, we resurveyed both arrays using a total station and analyzed the results to determine accumulated fault creep. Our results show that between 1970 and 2020, a period of 49.3 yr, the northern array was dextrally offset 164 ± 25 mm across the same two fault strands that were active in the 1970s, yielding an average creep rate of 3.3 ± 1.3 mm/yr. Thus, it appears that the 5 and 50 yr creep rates at this site are similar. The southern array, which may not span the entire fault zone, was dextrally offset 84 ± 13 mm across two fault strands between 1970 and 2019, yielding an average creep rate of 1.7 ± 0.8 mm/yr over 48.9 yr. These recent surveys document continued creep on the Sargent fault, which may reduce seismic strain accumulation and therefore seismic hazard. However, continued aseismic slip on this fault may result in the redistribution of stress and strain to adjacent faults and should be an area of continued study.