ABSTRACT

An unpublished geologic map of the Wonder, nevada, Mining District completed about 1911 by F. C. Schrader includes the “Gold King fault,” to which Schrader attributed 3 or more miles of surface fault breakage accompanied by an earthquake in the early part of this century. Historical research on this uncatalogued earthquake, including interviews with old residents of the area, now establishes the date as the fall of 1903 with a fair degree of certainty. There is evidence to suggest that as much as 12 miles of surface faulting may have occurred.

On December 16, 1954, this region was extensively faulted during the Dixie Valley-Fairview Peak earthquakes, and parts of the Gold King fault were refractured with vertical displacements that increased from a fraction of an inch at the north end to 2 feet near the south end of the 1903 fault fissure. Farther south, the vertical component of displacement increased to a maximum of about 4 feet and then decreased as it approached Chalk Mountain. The surface faulting on the northern portion of the Gold King fault, unlike that of most historic Basin-Range earthquake scarps, is mainly in the Tertiary (?) volcanic bedrock units within a horst mountain block, the Louderback Mountains, and is rarely in contact with alluvium.

Data on 1903 displacements are vague but appear to be of the same order and type as noted after the 1954 movement.

These two displacements on the Gold King fault constitute one of only four reasonably well established examples of recurrent surface breakage on the same fault segment within historic times in the United States. Furthermore, the reactivation of this fault after a period of only fifty years gives further evidence of the high seismicity along the 118th meridian in Nevada and California.

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