Interpretation of magnetic and new gravity data provides constraints on the geometry of the Hat Creek fault, the amount of right-lateral offset in the area between Mount Shasta and Lassen Peak (northern California, USA), and confirmation of the influence of preexisting structure on Quaternary faulting. Neogene volcanic rocks coincide with short-wavelength magnetic anomalies of both normal and reversed polarity, whereas a markedly smoother magnetic field occurs over the Klamath Mountains and Paleogene cover there. Although the magnetic field over the Neogene volcanic rocks is complex, the Hat Creek fault, which is one of the most prominent normal faults in the region and forms the eastern margin of the Hat Creek Valley, is marked by the eastern edge of a north-trending magnetic and gravity high 20–30 km long. Modeling of these anomalies indicates that the fault is a steeply dipping (∼75°–85°) structure. The spatial relationship of the fault as modeled by the potential-field data, the youngest strand of the fault, and relocated seismicity suggest that deformation continues to step westward across the valley, consistent with a component of right-lateral slip in an extensional environment.
Filtered aeromagnetic data highlight a concealed magnetic body of Mesozoic or older age north of Hat Creek Valley. The body’s northwest margin strikes northeast and is linear over a distance of ∼40 km. Within the resolution of the aeromagnetic data (1–2 km), we discern no right-lateral offset of this body. Furthermore, Quaternary faults change strike or appear to end, as if to avoid this concealed magnetic body and to pass along its southeast edge, suggesting that preexisting crustal structure influenced younger faulting, as previously proposed based on gravity data.