The location of the San Andreas fault in the Shelter Cove area of northern California has been the subject of long-standing debate within the geological community. Although surface ruptures were reported near Shelter Cove in 1906, several subsequent workers questioned whether these ruptures represented true fault slip or shaking-related, gravity-driven deformation. This study, involving geologic and geomorphic mapping, historical research, and excavation across the 1906 rupture zone, concludes that the surface ruptures reported in 1906 were the result of strike-slip faulting, and that a significant Quaternary fault is located onshore near Shelter Cove. Geomorphic arguments suggest that the Holocene slip rate of this fault is greater than about 14 mm/yr, indicating that it plays an important role within the modern plate-boundary system. The onshore trace of the fault zone is well expressed as far north as Telegraph Hill; north of Telegraph Hill, its location is less well-constrained, but we propose that a splay of the fault may continue onshore northward for at least 9 km to the vicinity of Saddle Mountain.

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