A magnitude 5.7 earthquake on 6 August 1979, within the Calaveras fault zone, near Coyote Lake of west-central California, motivated a seismic-refraction investigation in this area. A northwest-southeast profile along the fault, as well as two fan profiles across the fault were recorded to examine the velocity structure of this region.

The analysis of the data reveals a complicated upper crustal velocity structure with strong lateral variations in all directions. The near-surface layers consist of recent sediments with seismic P-wave velocities of 2.6 to 3.2 km/sec. These are underlain by rocks of the Great Valley Sequence which have an average velocity of 4.5 km/sec. The Great Valley Sequence is present along the whole profile; depths range from 4.3 to 4.8 km in the northwest near Anderson Lake and in the southeast of the profile line near Hollister. In the middle of the profile near Coyote Lake, however, this layer thins and we find a laterally limited higher velocity layer (5.1 km/sec) between depths of 2.8 to 4.8 km. The high-velocity zone, which coincides with a gravity high, also correlates spatially with the hypocentral area of the 6 August earthquake and its aftershocks and may therefore represent an asperity on the fault.

Velocities within the fault zone were determined from the fan profiles. Near Anderson Lake, a pronounced delay of first arrivals on the fan records indicates a vertical 1- to 2-km-wide near-surface, low-velocity zone along the fault. Near Coyote Lake, the delays observed in the fan records correlate with two subsurface en-echelon fault planes which have been previously identified from lineations in the seismicity pattern.

The structure of the lower crust is similar to the neighboring Diablo Range: a 8- to 9-km-thick upper crustal layer with a seismic velocity of 5.7 to 6.3 km/sec is underlain by a 3-km-thick layer with velocity 6.8 km/sec. In accordance with previous studies of the Diablo Range, there are indications of a pronounced lower crustal low-velocity zone between a depth of 17 and 23 km. The presence of this low-velocity zone suggests that higher velocity (igneous?) rocks of the middle crust have been thrust over sedimentary rocks.

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