Evidence for a prehistoric multifault rupture along the southern Calico fault system, Eastern California Shear Zone, USA
Vadman, M. J., Garvue, M. M., Spotila, J. A., Bemis, S. P., Stamps, D. S., Owen, L. A., & Figueiredo, P. M. (2023, September 8). GEOSPHERE.
Abstract Geomorphic mapping and paleoseismologic data reveal evidence for a late Holocene multifault surface rupture along the Calico-Hidalgo fault system of the southern Eastern California Shear Zone (ECSZ). We have identified ~18 km of continuous surface rupture along the combined Calico and Hidalgo faults in the vicinity of Hidalgo Mountain in the southern Mojave Desert. Based on the freshness of geomorphic fault features and continuity of surface expression, we interpret this feature to reflect a simultaneous paleorupture of both faults. Displacement along the paleorupture is defined by 39 field measurements to be generally pure right-slip with a mean offset of 2.3 m. Scaling relationships for this offset amount imply that the original surface rupture length may have been ~82 km (corresponding to a M7.4 earthquake) and that much of the rupture trace was erased by subsequent erosion of sandy and unconsolidated valley alluvium. Eight luminescence ages from a paleoseismic trench across the paleorupture on the Hidalgo fault bracket the timing of the most recent rupture to 0.9–1.7 ka and a possible penultimate event at 5.5–6.6 ka. This timing is generally consistent with the known earthquake clusters in the southern ECSZ based on previous paleoseismic investigations. The ages of these earthquakes also overlap with the age brackets of the most recent events on the Calico fault 42 km to the north and the Mesquite Lake fault 40 km to the south from earlier work. Based on these age constraints and the expected surface rupture length, we propose that the Calico fault system experienced a major, multifault rupture that spanned the entire length of the fault system between the historical Landers and Hector Mine ruptures but preceded these events by ~1–2 k.y. Coulomb stress change modeling shows that the Calico paleorupture may have delayed the occurrence of the Landers-Hector Mine cluster by placing their respective faults in stress shadows and may have also prevented a triggered event from occurring on the Calico fault following the historic events. This work implies that closely spaced ruptures in complex shear zones may repel each other and thereby stretch out the duration of major earthquake clusters. These results also suggest that complex multifault ruptures in the ECSZ may not follow simple, repeatable patterns.