Abstract

Slip rates represent the average displacement across a fault over time and are essential to estimating earthquake recurrence for probabilistic seismic hazard assessments. We demonstrate that the slip rate on the western segment of the Puente Hills blind thrust fault system, which is beneath downtown Los Angeles, California (USA), has accelerated from ∼0.22 mm/yr in the late Pleistocene to ∼1.33 mm/yr in the Holocene. Our analysis is based on syntectonic strata derived from the Los Angeles River, which has continuously buried a fold scarp above the blind thrust. Slip on the fault beneath our field site began during the late-middle Pleistocene and progressively increased into the Holocene. This increase in rate implies that the magnitudes and/or the frequency of earthquakes on this fault segment have increased over time. This challenges the characteristic earthquake model and presents an evolving and potentially increasing seismic hazard to metropolitan Los Angeles.

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