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Stafford fault system; 120 million year fault movement history of northern Virginia

David S. Powars, Rufus D. Catchings, J. Wright Horton, J. Stephen Schindler and Milan J. Pavich
Stafford fault system; 120 million year fault movement history of northern Virginia (in The 2011 Mineral, Virginia, earthquake, and its significance for seismic hazards in eastern North America, J. Wright Horton (editor), Martin C. Chapman (editor) and Russell A. Green (editor))
Special Paper - Geological Society of America (2015) 509: 407-431

Abstract

The Stafford fault system, located in the mid-Atlantic coastal plain of the eastern United States, provides the most complete record of fault movement during the past approximately 120 m.y. across the Virginia, Washington, District of Columbia (D.C.), and Maryland region, including displacement of Pleistocene terrace gravels. The Stafford fault system is close to and aligned with the Piedmont Spotsylvania and Long Branch fault zones. The dominant southwest-northeast trend of strong shaking from the 23 August 2011, moment magnitude M (sub w) 5.8 Mineral, Virginia, earthquake is consistent with the connectivity of these faults, as seismic energy appears to have traveled along the documented and proposed extensions of the Stafford fault system into the Washington, D.C., area. Some other faults documented in the nearby coastal plain are clearly rooted in crystalline basement faults, especially along terrane boundaries. These coastal plain faults are commonly assumed to have undergone relatively uniform movement through time, with average slip rates from 0.3 to 1.5 m/m.y. However, there were higher rates during the Paleocene-early Eocene and the Pliocene (4.4-27.4 m/m.y), suggesting that slip occurred primarily during large earthquakes. Further investigation of the Stafford fault system is needed to understand potential earthquake hazards for the Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., area. The combined Stafford fault system and aligned Piedmont faults are approximately 180 km long, so if the combined fault system ruptured in a single event, it would result in a significantly larger magnitude earthquake than the Mineral earthquake. Many structures most strongly affected during the Mineral earthquake are along or near the Stafford fault system and its proposed northeastward extension.


ISSN: 0072-1077
EISSN: 2331-219X
Coden: GSAPAZ
Serial Title: Special Paper - Geological Society of America
Serial Volume: 509
Title: Stafford fault system; 120 million year fault movement history of northern Virginia
Title: The 2011 Mineral, Virginia, earthquake, and its significance for seismic hazards in eastern North America
Author(s): Powars, David S.Catchings, Rufus D.Horton, J. Wright, Jr.Schindler, J. StephenPavich, Milan J.
Author(s): Horton, J. Wright, Jr.editor
Author(s): Chapman, Martin C.editor
Author(s): Green, Russell A.editor
Affiliation: U. S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, United States
Affiliation: U. S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, United States
Pages: 407-431
Published: 2015
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 81
Accession Number: 2015-036180
Categories: SeismologyStructural geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 1 table, geol. sketch maps
N37°00'00" - N39°00'00", W78°00'00" - W77°00'00"
Secondary Affiliation: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Geosciences, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201517
Program Name: USGSOPNon-USGS publications with USGS authors
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