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Seismic reflection imaging of the low-angle Panamint normal fault system, eastern California

October 7, 2020

Shallowly dipping (<30°) low‐angle normal faults (LANFs) have been documented globally; however, examples of active LANFs in continental settings are limited. The western margin of the Panamint Range in eastern California is defined by a LANF that dips west beneath Panamint Valley and has evidence of Quaternary motion. In addition, high‐angle dextral‐oblique normal faults displace middle to late Quaternary alluvial fans near the range front. To image shallow (<1 km depth), crosscutting relationships between the low‐ and high‐angle faults along the range front, we acquired two high‐resolution P wave seismic reflection profiles. The northern, 4.6‐km‐long profile crosses the 2‐km‐wide Wildrose graben and the southern, 0.8‐km‐long profile extends onto the Panamint Valley playa, ~7.5 km S of Ballarat, CA. The profile across the Wildrose graben reveals a robust, low‐angle reflector interpreted to represent the LANF separating Plio‐Pleistocene alluvial fanglomerate and Proterozoic metasedimentary deposits. High‐angle faults interpreted in the seismic profile correspond to fault scarps on Quaternary alluvial fan surfaces. Interpretation of the reflection data suggests that the high‐angle faults vertically displace the LANF up to 80 m within the Wildrose graben. Similarly, the profile south of Ballarat reveals a low‐angle reflector, which appears both rotated and displaced up to 260 m by high‐angle faults. These results suggest that near the Panamint range front, the high‐angle faults are the dominant active structures. We conclude that at least at shallow (<1 km) depths, the LANF we imaged is not active today.

Publication Year 2020
Title Seismic reflection imaging of the low-angle Panamint normal fault system, eastern California
DOI 10.1029/2020JB020243
Authors Ryan D. Gold, William J. Stephenson, Richard W. Briggs, Christopher DuRoss, Eric Kirby, Edward W Woolery, Jaime Delano, Jackson K. Odum
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title JGR Solid Earth
Index ID 70217169
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geologic Hazards Science Center