Abstract

Timing of the latest movement on the Santa Cruz Island fault, a dramatic physiographic feature of the southern boundary of the California Transverse Ranges, is demonstrated to be latest Pleistocene to Holocene in age. Faulting of dated terrace gravels confirms that the most recent rupture on the fault is no older than 11.78 ±0.1 ka. This represents an order of magnitude increase over the recency suggested by previous work and requires proportional increases in estimates of the minimum slip rate and seismic hazard posed by the fault. Uplifted latest Pleistocene to Holocene fill terraces are consistent with models of high rates of uplift and high sediment supply. Numerical solution of the interaction of sea-level rise with uplift at the west end of Santa Cruz Island predicts that the youngest strata in the faulted terrace sequence are about 6.1 ka. Reevaluation of high-resolution seismic sections just west of the island supports the latest Pleistocene to Holocene timing of the most recent rupture on the fault. The Santa Cruz Island fault apparently represents an active seismogenic element of southern California, the recency and high rate of activity of which have not been previously recognized.

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