Abstract

The Santa Rosa Range fault zone (srrfz) is one of the most topographically prominent normal fault systems in the northern Basin and Range province of the western United States. It has been assigned high rates of vertical slip by others and has been identified as a possible site of the future extension of the central Nevada seismic belt (cnsb). We use detailed trench mapping and luminescence dating to estimate displacements and timing of the last several large-magnitude paleoearthquakes on the southern part of the srrfz at a trench site near Orovada, Nevada. Coseismic vertical displacements ranged from 1 to 2.8 m for each of the last four events. Luminescence ages provide time limits for the last three events of 125–155 ka, 90–108 ka, and 11–16 ka. These data yield recurrence intervals of 17–65 k.y. and 74–97 k.y. and an elapsed time of 11–16 k.y. since the youngest event. Slip-rate determinations at the Orovada site are complicated by multiple fault strands, but rates calculated from a variety of data are surprisingly low (0.01–0.16 mm/yr), given the topographic prominence of the Santa Rosa Range. A lack of compelling patterns in a comparison of paleoseismic parameters indicate that the srrfz is no more likely a location for a large-magnitude earthquake than previously identified seismic gaps or along faults that lie directly north of the cnsb.

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