The Walker Lane belt and Eastern California shear zone of California, USA, are active, plate boundary–related dextral systems with transtensional and transpressional deformation, respectively. They are separated by the sinistral Garlock fault, creating a complex system without an overall integrated formation and evolution model. We examine the deformation within the eastern segment of the Garlock fault zone over geologic timescales by determining the slip history of faults. We assess the progression of faulting and associated deformation along the WSW-striking Garlock fault zone and how it applies to the overall NNW-directed dextral system. Previous studies found that large synthetic fault strands take up 30% of the slip of the Garlock fault zone and have proposed multiple mechanisms to explore how to accommodate regional NNW-directed shear across the Garlock fault without cutting its trace.

We analyze an unstudied section of faulting in one of the more complex areas of regional deformation via compiled and reinterpreted published geologic data for an analysis of total and incremental slip on the main faults of the eastern Garlock fault zone. We identify geologic offset features to interpret total slip, timing, and deformation evolution. We find that 30% of the total slip of the Garlock zone occurs on strands other than the Garlock fault sensu stricto, with the locus of main slip sidestepping during the evolution of accommodation of through-going, regional dextral shear. Our results support ideas of the creation and evolution of the regional dextral system via stress concentration on a sub-Garlock lithospheric anisotropy with a resulting lowering of the plastic yield stress. Our results also show an eastward increase in fault system complexity, which may imply an underappreciated seismic hazard of the eastern Garlock fault zone.

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