Abstract

Paleoseismological data constrain the age, location, and associated magnitude of past surface-rupturing earthquakes; these are critical parameters for developing and testing fault behavior models and characterizing seismic hazard. We present new earthquake evidence and radiocarbon analyses that refine the chronology of the six most recent earthquakes that ruptured the south-central San Andreas fault in the Carrizo Plain (California, United States) at the Bidart Fan site. Modeled 95 percentile ranges of the earthquakes prior to the A.D. 1857 earthquake are A.D. 1631–1823, 1580–1640, 1510–1612, 1450–1475, and 1360–1452. The average time interval between the last six earthquakes that ruptured the San Andreas fault in the Carrizo Plain is 88 ± 41 yr. This is less than the time since the most recent A.D. 1857 earthquake, less than all reported average intervals of prehistoric earthquakes along the entire San Andreas fault, and significantly shorter than the 235 yr average used in recent seismic hazard evaluations. The new chronological data combined with recent slip studies imply that the magnitudes of the earthquakes that ruptured the southern San Andreas fault in the Carrizo Plain since ca. A.D. 1360 were variable, and suggest that the widely held view of rare but great surface rupturing earthquakes along this portion of the southern San Andreas fault should be reevaluated.

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