A field guide to the central, creeping section of the San Andreas fault and the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth
Published:January 01, 2006
Michael J. Rymer, Stephen H. Hickman, Philip W. Stoffer, 2006. "A field guide to the central, creeping section of the San Andreas fault and the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth", 1906 San Francisco Earthquake centennial Field Guides: Field trips associated with the 100th Anniversary Conference, 18–23 April 2006, San Francisco, California, Carol S. Prentice, Judith G. Scotchmoor, Eldridge M. Moores, Jon P. Kiland
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This field trip is along the central section of the San Andreas fault and consists of eight stops that illustrate surface evidence of faulting, in general, and features associated with active fault creep, in particular. Fault creep is slippage along a fault that occurs either in association with small-magnitude earthquakes or without any associated large-magnitude earthquakes. Another aspect of the trip is to highlight where there are multiple fault traces along this section of the San Andreas fault zone in order to gain a better understanding of plate-boundary processes.
The first stop is along the Calaveras fault, part of the San Andreas fault system, at a location where evidence of active fault creep is abundant and readily accessible. The stops that follow are along the San Andreas fault and at convenient locations to present and discuss rock types juxtaposed across the fault that have been transported tens to hundreds of kilometers by right-lateral motion along the San Andreas fault. Stops 6 and 7 are examples of recent studies of different aspects of the fault: drilling into the fault at the depth of repeating magnitude (M) 2 earthquakes with the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD) and the geological, geophysical, and seismological study of M 6 earthquakes near the town of Parkfield.
Along with the eight official stops on this field trip are 12 “rolling stops”—sites of geologic interest that add to the understanding of features and processes in the creeping section of the fault. Many of the rolling stops are located where stopping is difficult to dangerous; some of these sites are not appropriate for large vehicles (buses) or groups; some sites are not appropriate for people at all. We include photographs of or from many of these sites to add to the reader's experience without adding too many stops or hazards to the trip.
An extensive set of literature is available for those interested in the San Andreas fault or in the creeping section, in particular. For more scientifically oriented overviews of the fault, see Wallace (1990) and Irwin (1990); for a more generalized overview with abundant, colorful illustrations, see Collier (1999). Although the presence of small sections of the San Andreas fault was known before the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake, it was only after that event and subsequent geologic investigations reported in Lawson (1908) that showed the fault as a long structure, extending all the way from east of Los Angeles into northern California. Prentice (1999) described the importance of the 1908 “Lawson report” and how it pivotally influenced the understanding of the San Andreas. Hill (1981) presented a wonderful introduction to the evolution of thought on the San Andreas. Geologic maps and maps of the most recently active fault trace in the creeping section, or large parts of it, include those by Brown (1970), Dibblee (1971, 1980), and Wagner et al. (2002); detailed geologic maps are discussed at various stops in this guide. Various aspects of the creeping section of the San Andreas fault have been the focus of many geologic field trips in the past few decades. Guidebooks for some of those trips include those by Gribi (1963a, 1963b), Brabb et al. (1966), Rogers (1969), Bucknam and Haller (1989), Harden et al. (2001), and Stoffer (2005).
Features that we see on this trip include offset street curbs, closed depressions (sag ponds), fault scarps (steep slopes formed by movement along a fault), a split and displaced tree, offset fence lines, fresh fractures, and offset road lines (Fig. 3 is a sketch showing some of the landforms that represent deformation by an active fault). We also see evidence of long-term maturity of the San Andreas fault, as indicated by fault features and displaced rock types (Fig. 4). Finally, we will visit sites of ongoing research into the processes associated with earthquakes and their effects. Discussions include drilling into the San Andreas fault at the SAFOD drill site and the 2004 Parkfield earthquake and its effects and implications.
Figures & Tables
1906 San Francisco Earthquake centennial Field Guides: Field trips associated with the 100th Anniversary Conference, 18–23 April 2006, San Francisco, California
The twenty field trip guides in this volume represent the work of earthquake professionals from the earth science, engineering, and emergency management communities. The guides were developed to cross the boundaries between these professions, and thus reflect this diversity: trips herein focus on the built environment, the effects of the 1906 earthquake, the San Andreas fault, and other active faults in northern California. Originally developed in conjunction with the 100th Anniversary Earthquake Conference held in San Francisco, California, in April 2006, this book is meant to stand the test of time and prove useful to a wide audience for general interest reading, group trips, or self-guided tours.
- aerial photography
- Calaveras Fault
- fault zones
- field trips
- Hollister California
- Monterey County California
- Parkfield California
- plate boundaries
- plate tectonics
- remote sensing
- road log
- San Andreas Fault
- San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth
- San Benito County California
- slip rates
- United States