Northward migration of the Oregon forearc on the Gales Creek fault
The Gales Creek fault (GCF) is a 60-km-long, northwest-striking dextral fault system (west of Portland, Oregon) that accommodates northward motion and uplift of the Oregon Coast Range. New geologic mapping and geophysical models confirm inferred offsets from earlier geophysical surveys and document ∼12 km of right-lateral offset of a basement high in Eocene Siletz River Volcanics since ca. 35 Ma and ∼8.8 km of right-lateral separation of Miocene Columbia River Basalt at Newberg, Oregon, since 15 Ma (∼0.62 ± 0.12 mm/yr, average long-term rate). Relative uplift of Eocene Coast Range basalt basement west of the fault zone is at least 5 km based on depth to basement under the Tualatin Basin from a recent inversion of gravity data. West of the city of Forest Grove, the fault consists of two subparallel strands ∼7 km apart. The westernmost, Parsons Creek strand, forms a linear valley southward to Henry Hagg Lake, where it continues southward to Newberg as a series of en echelon strands forming both extensional and compressive step-overs. Compressive step-overs in the GCF occur at intersections with ESE-striking sinistral faults crossing the Coast Range, suggesting the GCF is the eastern boundary of an R′ Riedel shear domain that could accommodate up to half of the ∼45° of post–40 Ma clockwise rotation of the Coast Range documented by paleomagnetic studies. Gravity and magnetic anomalies suggest the western strands of the GCF extend southward beneath Newberg into the Northern Willamette Valley, where colinear magnetic anomalies have been correlated with the Mount Angel fault, the proposed source of the 1993 M 5.7 Scotts Mills earthquake. The potential-field data and water-well data also indicate the eastern, Gales Creek strand of the fault may link to the NNW-striking Canby fault through the E-W Beaverton fault to form a 30-km-wide compressive step-over along the south side of the Tualatin Basin. LiDAR data reveal right-lateral stream offsets of as much as 1.5 km, shutter ridges, and other youthful geomorphic features for 60 km along the geophysical and geologic trace of the GCF north of Newberg, Oregon. Paleoseismic trenches document Eocene bedrock thrust over 250 ka surficial deposits along a reverse splay of the fault system near Yamhill, Oregon, and Holocene motion has been recently documented on the GCF along Scoggins Creek and Parsons Creek. The GCF could produce earthquakes in excess of Mw 7, if the entire 60 km segment ruptured in one earthquake. The apparent subsurface links of the GCF to other faults in the Northern Willamette Valley suggest that other faults in the system may also be active.
|Northward migration of the Oregon forearc on the Gales Creek fault
|Ray Wells, Richard J. Blakely, Sean Bemis
|USGS Publications Warehouse
|Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center; Western Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center