One of the largest historical earthquakes in California occurred in 1872 along the Owens Valley fault located along the western margin of the Eastern California Shear Zone. New paleoseismic and optically stimulated luminescence data are the first to bracket the timing of the pre-1872 rupture to between 3.3 ± 0.3 and 3.8 ± 0.3 ka. These data yield an earthquake recurrence interval between 4100 and 3000 yr, under the assumption of uniform return, and indicate a Holocene slip rate between 1.8 ± 0.3 and 3.6 ± 0.2 mm/ yr. Our data are broadly consistent with a model proposed for the space-time evolution of the Eastern California Shear Zone. Our Holocene slip-rate estimates for the Owens Valley fault are slower than present-day slip rates determined from elastic half-space models of geodetic data. This discrepancy is reduced by using the recurrence interval estimated here and a viscoelastic model of geodetic data or by including geologic slip rates from adjacent faults.

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