Abstract

The Eastern California shear zone is an active, north-northwest–trending zone of intraplate right-lateral shear that absorbs ∼25% of Pacific-North America relative plate motion. The Stateline fault system (SFS), which includes several previously recognized, discontinuously exposed Quaternary structures along the California-Nevada border, is in this paper defined as a continuous, 200-km–long zone of active dextral shear that includes (from south to north) the Mesquite, Pahrump, and Amargosa Valley segments. Recognition of this system expands the known extent of the Eastern California shear zone ∼50 km to the east-northeast from its traditionally recognized boundary along the Death Valley fault system. Proximal volcanic and rock avalanche deposits offset across the Mesquite segment of the SFS indicate 30 ± 4 km of slip on this structure since 13.1 ± 0.2 Ma. This offset is an order of magnitude larger than previous estimates across this section of the SFS, but it is consistent with larger offsets previously proposed for the central and northern sections. The total offset and averaged slip rate since mid-Miocene time (2.3 ± 0.35 mm/yr) are similar to those of other major faults across this portion of the Basin and Range, which, from east to west, include the Death Valley, Panamint Valley-Hunter Mountain, and Owens Valley fault systems. However, in contrast to these faults, the average post–mid-Miocene slip rate on the SFS is approximately twice that estimated from present-day geodetic observations and an order of magnitude greater than estimates of average post–mid-Pleistocene slip rates. This discrepancy between long-term, short-term, and geodetically derived slip rates differs from other geologic-geodetic, slip-rate discrepancies in the Eastern California shear zone, where geodetic slip rates are significantly faster than both long-term and short-term geologic slip rates. This suggests that either the slip rate on the SFS has diminished over time, such that the system is an abandoned strand of the relatively young Eastern California shear zone, or that the present-day slip rate represents a transient period of slow slip, such that strands of the shear zone must accommodate a complex spatial and temporal distribution of slip.

You do not currently have access to this article.