Relatively simple through-going fault planes at large-earthquake depth may be concealed by the surface complexity of strike-slip faults
Published:January 01, 2007
R. W. Graymer, V. E. Langenheim, R. W. Simpson, R. C. Jachens, D. A. Ponce, 2007. "Relatively simple through-going fault planes at large-earthquake depth may be concealed by the surface complexity of strike-slip faults", Tectonics of Strike-Slip Restraining and Releasing Bends, W. D. Cunningham, P. Mann
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At the surface, strike-slip fault stepovers, including abrupt fault bends, are typically regions of complex, often disconnected faults. This complexity has traditionally led geologists studying the hazard of active faults to consider such stepovers as important fault segment boundaries, and to give lower weight to earthquake scenarios that involve rupture through the stepover zone. However, recent geological and geophysical studies of several stepover zones along the San Andreas fault system in California have revealed that the complex nature of the fault zone at the surface masks a much simpler and direct connection at depths associated with large earthquakes (greater than 5 km). In turn, the simplicity of the connection suggests that a stepover zone would provide less of an impediment to through-going rupture in a large earthquake, so that the role of stepovers as segment boundaries has probably been overemphasized. However, counter-examples of fault complexity at depth associated with surface stepovers are known, so the role of stepovers in fault rupture behaviour must be carefully established in each case.
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Tectonics of Strike-Slip Restraining and Releasing Bends
Restraining and releasing bends are common, but enigmatic features of strike-slip fault systems occurring in all crustal environments and at regional to microscopic scales of observation. Regional-scale restraining bends are sites of mountain building, transpressional deformation and basement exhumation, whereas releasing bends are sites of topographic subsidence, transtensional deformation, basin sedimentation and possible volcanism and economic mineralization. Because restraining and releasing bends often occur as singular self-contained domains of complex deformation, they are appealing natural laboratories for Earth scientists to study fault processes, earthquake seismology, active faulting and sedimentation, fault and fluid-flow relationships, links between tectonics and topography, tectonic and erosional controls on exhumation, and tectonic geomorphology.
This volume addresses the tectonic complexity and diversity of strike-slip restraining and releasing bends with 18 contributions divided into four thematic sections: (1) a topical review of fault bends and their global distribution; (2) bends, sedimentary basins and earthquake hazards; (3) restraining bends, transpressional deformation and basement controls on development; (4) releasing bends, transtensional deformation and fluid flow.