Lateral offsets and revised dates of large prehistoric earthquakes at Pallett Creek, southern California

TitleLateral offsets and revised dates of large prehistoric earthquakes at Pallett Creek, southern California
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1984
AuthorsSieh KE
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Volume89
Pagination7641-7670
Date Published09/1984
ISBN Number2156-2202
Keywords7203 Seismology: Seismic sources (mechanisms, magnitude, frequency spectrum, and time distribution)
Abstract

Recent excavation and new radiocarbon dates of sediments at Pallett Creek are the basis for new conclusions regarding the late Holocene history of the San Andreas fault. Systematic dissection of a 50-m-long, 15-m-wide, 5-m-deep volume of earth, centered on the fault, enables documentation in three dimensions of fault patterns, lateral offsets, and vertical deformation associated with large earthquakes of the past. The excavations expose evidence for 12 earthquakes that occurred between about 260 and 1857 A.D., with an average recurrence interval of about 145 years. Prehistoric slip events that occurred in 1720±50, 1550±70, 1350+50, 1080±65, and 845±75 A.D. have lateral offsets that are comparable to those of the most recent great earthquake of 1857. Thus all of these events represent earthquakes of large magnitude. The lateral offsets of two other events, in 935±85 and 1015±100 A.D., are an order of magnitude smaller and may be interpreted in several ways with regard to the size of these events. The new data constrain the average recurrence interval for large earthquakes at this site to between 145 and 200 years but suggest a monotonic decrease in individual intervals to below this range during the past 900 years. On the basis of these data, the probability of a large earthquake with surficial fault rupture at this site is between 0.2 and 5% during 1984 and 7 and 60% by the year 2000.