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Insights into the geometry and evolution of the southern San Andreas Fault from geophysical data, southern California

April 4, 2022

Two new joint gravity-magnetic models in northern Coachella Valley provide additional evidence for a steep northeast dip of the Mission Creek strand of the southern San Andreas fault (southern California, USA). Gravity modeling indicates a steep northeast dip of the Banning fault in the upper 1–2 km in northern Coachella Valley. The Mission Creek strand and its continuation to the southeast (Coachella segment) coincide with the northeastern margin of a Cenozoic basin and are marked by prominent gravity and magnetic gradients that are consistent with these strands of the San Andreas fault having accommodated >160 km of right-lateral and 1–5 km of vertical displacement. These anomalies are best fit by a moderate to steep northeast dip. Such a geometry is further supported by seismicity, reflectivity, geodesy, and boundary-element modeling. We explore the possibility that these fault strands forming the margin of Coachella Valley were originally near vertical and have rotated into their present orientation by underplating of a localized high-velocity, lower-crustal prong within the Peninsular Ranges batholith. Reconstructions of San Andreas fault offset suggest that this crystalline body was translated into the San Gorgonio Pass area at the time of major fault reorganization at 1.1–1.3 Ma.