Abstract

The Genoa fault, a principal normal fault of the transition zone between the Basin and Range Province and the northern Sierra Nevada, displays a large and conspicuous prehistoric scarp. Three trenches excavated across this scarp exposed two large-displacement, late Holocene events. Two of the trenches contained multiple layers of stratified charcoal, yielding radiocarbon ages suggesting the most recent and penultimate events on the main part of the fault occurred 500-600 cal B.P., and 2000-2200 cal B.P., respectively. Normal-slip offsets of 3-5.5 m per event along much of the rupture length are comparable to the largest historical Basin and Range Province earthquakes, suggesting these paleoearthquakes were on the order of magnitude 7.2-7.5. The apparent late Holocene slip rate (2-3 mm/yr) is one of the highest in the Basin and Range Province.

Based on structural and behavioral differences, the Genoa fault is here divided into four principal sections (the Sierra, Diamond Valley, Carson Valley, and Jacks Valley sections) and is distinguished from three northeast-striking faults in the Carson City area (the Kings Canyon, Carson City, and Indian Hill faults). The conspicuous scarp extends for nearly 25 km, the combined length of the Carson Valley and Jacks Valley sections. The Diamond Valley section lacks the conspicuous scarp, and older alluvial fans and bedrock outcrops on the downthrown side of the fault indicate a lower activity rate. Activity further decreases to the south along the Sierra section, which consists of numerous distributed faults. All three northeast-striking faults in the Carson City area ruptured within the past few thousand years, and one or more may have ruptured during recent events on the Genoa fault.

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