We excavated trenches at two paleoseismic sites bounding a trans-basin bedrock ridge (the Willow Creek Hills) along the northern Lost River fault zone to explore the uniqueness of the 1983 Mw 6.9 Borah Peak earthquake compared to its prehistoric predecessors. At the Sheep Creek site on the southernmost Warm Springs section, two earthquakes occurred at 9.8–14.0 ka (95% confidence) and 6.5–7.1 ka; each had ~1.9 m of vertical displacement. About 4 km to the southeast, across the Willow Creek Hills, two ruptures at the Arentson Gulch site on the northernmost Thousand Springs section occurred at 9.0–14.7 ka and 6.1–7.5 ka with ~1.9 m of vertical displacement each. We synthesize these and previous paleoseismic results into a model of five postglacial (<15 ka) ruptures along a ~65 km reach of the northern Lost River fault zone. Our results show that the Borah Peak earthquake (34 km; 0.9 m mean displacement) was unique compared to previous ruptures that had both longer and shorter rupture lengths (~25–38 km), more displacement (mean of ~1.3–1.4 m), and equal or greater magnitude (Mw 6.9–7.1) than that in the 1983 earthquake. These ruptures support a hypothesis of variable rupture length and displacement on the northern Lost River fault zone and show that predecessors to the 1983 rupture have passed unimpeded through the Willow Creek Hills. Our work demonstrates that normal faults are capable of producing variable spatial-temporal patterns of rupture that, together with comparisons of fault geometry and historical rupture length, improve our understanding of fault segmentation and help inform models of earthquake rupture probability.

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