Smith Valley is bounded on its western edge by an active normal fault and the Pine Nut mountains. Displacement on the fault is responsible for development of one of the westernmost basins of the Basin and Range province of the western United States. Interpretation of an exposure afforded by excavation of a trench across the range-bounding fault places the most recent surface-rupture earthquake after 5176±130 cal yr B.P. and suggests it was close in time to 3530±82 cal yr B.P. Utilization of tephrochonologic and cosmogenic analyses and mapping of fault scarps across the Artesia Road fan are the basis for putting forth an initial estimate of the late Pleistocene vertical slip rate of the fault at between 0.125 mm/yr and 0.33 mm/yr.

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