Santa Clara Valley is bounded on the southwest and northeast by active strike-slip and reverse-oblique faults of the San Andreas fault system. On both sides of the valley, these faults are superposed on older normal and/or right-lateral normal oblique faults. The older faults comprised early components of the San Andreas fault system as it formed in the wake of the northward passage of the Mendocino Triple Junction. On the east side of the valley, the great majority of fault displacement was accommodated by the older faults, which were almost entirely abandoned when the presently active faults became active after ca. 2.5 Ma. On the west side of the valley, the older faults were abandoned earlier, before ca. 8 Ma and probably accumulated only a small amount, if any, of the total right-lateral offset accommodated by the fault zone as a whole. Apparent contradictions in observations of fault offset and the relation of the gravity field to the distribution of dense rocks at the surface are explained by recognition of superposed structures in the Santa Clara Valley region.