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ABSTRACT

The field trip guide describes nine stops that examine the mechanisms and timing of some of the abundant and often gigantic landslides that occur along the Winter Ridge–Slide Mountain escarpment in south-central Oregon. Subsidence of Summer Lake basin, situated in the northwestern Basin and Range province, has exposed a kilometer-thick Neogene sequence of dense volcanic flow rocks overlying very weak tuffaceous sedimentary rocks in the bounding escarpment. Subsidence is accommodated on the 58-km-long Winter Rim fault system, a normal fault which is capable of producing Mw ≈ 7 earthquakes with near-field, maximum horizontal acceleration approaching 1 g on the bedrock footwall. Gigantic rock slides cubic kilometers in volume scallop the southwestern portion of the escarpment, and their deposits run out as rock avalanches several kilometers onto the basin floor. Limit-equilibrium slope stability analyses support observations that these gigantic bedrock landslides initiate within the weak tuffaceous sedimentary rocks along shallow, east-dipping, planar failure surfaces one to two kilometers in length; are insensitive to groundwater fluctuations; and, are stable under static conditions. Strong ground motions appear requisite to trigger landsliding and are necessary to replicate the long, shallow failure surfaces. Landslide, colluvial, and lacustrine deposits on the hanging wall have undergone widespread post-emplacement deformation, which may involve large-scale seismogenic lateral spreading and flow sliding controlled by the saturated, fine-grained basin fill.

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