Abstract

Strain accumulation observed over the 1974 to 1988 interval in a 25 by 100 km aperture trilateration network spanning Owens Valley is adequately described by a strain rate that is uniform in space and time. The tensor strain-rate components referred to a coordinate system with the 2 axis directed N18°W (parallel to the trend of the valley) and the 1 axis N72°E are ∈˙11 = 0.042 ± 0.014 μstrain/yr, ∈˙12 = -0.058 ± 0.007 μstrain/yr, and ∈˙22 = 0.002 ± 0.014 μstrain/yr; quoted uncertainties are standard deviations and extension is reckoned positive. Across the 25-km breadth of the network, this amounts to 1.0 ± 0.3 mm/yr extension normal to the axis of the valley, 2.9 ± 0.4 mm/yr right-lateral shear across the axis, and no extension parallel to the axis. If the measured strain accumulation is attributed to slip on the deeper section of the Owens Valley fault with the uppermost 10 km of the fault locked, the observed right-lateral deformation would imply about 7 mm/yr right-lateral slip on the buried fault, much greater than the geologic estimate of 2 ± 0.5 mm/yr right-lateral secular slip (Beanland and Clark, 1994). Nor is the observed uplift profile across the valley consistent with continuing normal slip on just the deep segment of the Owens Valley fault; normal slip at depth on the Sierra frontal fault also seems to be required. The observed deformation across Owens Valley apparently implies processes more complicated than those represented by the conventional model of strain accumulation along a throughgoing fault.

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