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The San Andreas fault in the San Francisco Bay region, California: Structure and kinematics of a Young plate boundary

January 1, 1999

Recently acquired high-resolution aeromagnetic data delineate offset and/or truncated magnetic rock bodies of the Franciscan Complex that define the location and structure of, and total offset across, the San Andreas fault in the San Francisco Bay region. Two distinctive magnetic anomalies caused by ultramafic rocks and metabasalts east of, and truncated at, the San Andreas fault have clear counterparts west of the fault that indicate a total right-lateral offset of only 22 km on the Peninsula segment, the active strand that ruptured in 1906. The location of the Peninsula segment is well defined magnetically on the northern peninsula where it goes offshore, and can be traced along strike an additional ~6 km to the northwest. Just offshore from Lake Merced, the inferred fault trace steps right (northeast) 3 km onto a nearly parallel strand that can be traced magnetically northwest more than 20 km as the linear northeast edge of a magnetic block bounded by the San Andreas fault, the Pilarcitos fault, and the San Gregorio-Hosgri fault zone. This right-stepping strand, the Golden Gate segment, joins the eastern mapped trace of the San Andreas fault at Bolinas Lagoon and projects back onshore to the southeast near Lake Merced. Inversion of detailed gravity data on the San Francisco Peninsula reveals a 3 km wide basin situated between the two strands of the San Andreas fault, floored by Franciscan basement and filled with Plio-Quaternary sedimentary deposits of the Merced and Colma formations. The basin, ~1 km deep at the coast, narrows and becomes thinner to the southeast along the fault over a distance of ~12 km. The length, width, and location of the basin between the two strands are consistent with a pull-apart basin formed behind the right step in the right-lateral strike-slip San Andreas fault system and currently moving southeast with the North American plate. Slight nonparallelism of the two strands bounding the basin (implying a small component of convergence with continued strike-slip movement) may explain the progressive narrowing of the basin to the southeast and the puzzling recent uplift of the Merced Formation in a predominantly extensional (pull-apart basin) setting. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake may have nucleated within the step-over region, and the step-over places a strand of the San Andreas fault 3 km closer to downtown San Francisco than previously thought.

Publication Year 1999
Title The San Andreas fault in the San Francisco Bay region, California: Structure and kinematics of a Young plate boundary
Authors R.C. Jachens, M.L. Zoback
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title International Geology Review
Index ID 70021826
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse