Abstract

A fortuitous exposure of the East Paradise fault zone near Arroyo de las Calabacillas has helped us determine a post-middle Pleistocene history for a long-forgotten Quaternary fault in the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mapping of two exposures of the fault zone allowed us to measure a total vertical offset of 2.75 m across middle Pleistocene fluvial and eolian deposits and to estimate individual surface-faulting events of about 1, 0.5, and 1.25 m. These measurements and several thermoluminescence ages allow us to calculate a long-term average slip rate of 0.01 ± 0.001 mm/yr and date two surface-faulting events to 208 ± 25 ka and 75 ± 7 ka. The youngest event probably occurred in the late Pleistocene, sometime after 75 ± 7 ka. These data yield a single recurrence interval of 133 ± 26 ka and an average recurrence interval of 90 ± 10 ka. However, recurrence intervals are highly variable because the two youngest events occurred in less than 75 ka. Offsets of 0.5-1.25 m and a fault length of 13-20 km indicate that surface-rupturing paleoearthquakes on the East Paradise fault zone had probable Ms or Mw magnitudes of 6.8-7.0. Although recurrence intervals are long on the East Paradise fault zone, these data are significant because they represent some of the first published slip rate, paleoearthquake magnitude, and recurrence information for any of the numerous Quaternary faults in the rapidly growing Albuquerque-Rio Rancho metropolitan area.

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