Abstract

Sources of seismic hazard in the Puget Sound region of northwestern Washington include deep earthquakes associated with the Cascadia subduction zone, and shallow earthquakes associated with some of the numerous crustal (upper-plate) faults that crisscross the region. Our paleoseismic investigations on one of the more prominent crustal faults, the Darrington–Devils Mountain fault zone, included trenching of fault scarps developed on latest Pleistocene glacial sediments and analysis of cores from an adjacent wetland near Lake Creek, 14 km southeast of Mount Vernon, Washington. Trench excavations revealed evidence of a single earthquake, radiocarbon dated to ca. 2 ka, but extensive burrowing and root mixing of sediments within 50–100 cm of the ground surface may have destroyed evidence of other earthquakes. Cores in a small wetland adjacent to our trench site provided stratigraphic evidence (formation of a laterally extensive, prograding wedge of hillslope colluvium) of an earthquake ca. 2 ka, which we interpret to be the same earthquake documented in the trenches. A similar colluvial wedge lower in the wetland section provides possible evidence for a second earthquake dated to ca. 8 ka. Three-dimensional trenching techniques revealed evidence for 2.2 ± 1.1 m of right-lateral offset of a glacial outwash channel margin, and 45–70 cm of north-side-up vertical separation across the fault zone. These offsets indicate a net slip vector of 2.3 ± 1.1 m, plunging 14° west on a 286°-striking, 90°-dipping fault plane. The dominant right-lateral sense of slip is supported by the presence of numerous Riedel R shears preserved in two of our trenches, and probable right-lateral offset of a distinctive bedrock fault zone in a third trench. Holocene north-side-up, right-lateral oblique slip is opposite the south-side-up, left-lateral oblique sense of slip inferred from geologic mapping of Eocene and older rocks along the fault zone. The cause of this slip reversal is unknown but may be related to clockwise rotation of the Darrington–Devils Mountain fault zone into a position more favorable to right-lateral slip in the modern N-S compressional stress field.

You do not currently have access to this article.