Holocene Earthquakes on the Wassuk Range Fault Zone: Paleoseismic Observations from the Rose Creek Fan and Regional Geodetic Observations, Hawthorne, Nevada, USA

Authors: Bormann, Jayne; Wesnousky, Steve; Hammond, Bill; Sarmiento, Alex
Keywords: Wassuk Range; Walker Lane; Nevada; Active faulting; Paleoseismology; Transtention; GPS; Geodesy
Conference: Geothermal Resources Council Transactions Session: Geological surveys; Seismicity
Year: 2010 Language: English
Geo Location:
Abstract: The Wassuk Range fault zone is an east-dipping, high-angle normal fault that flanks the eastern margin of the Wassuk Range near the town of Hawthorne in central Nevada. We present new paleoseismic observations bearing on the displacement and recurrence characteristics of surface rupturing earthquakes along the Wassuk Range fault zone that result from investigating fault scarps at the head of the Rose Creek alluvial fan, located approximately 8 mi (13 km) northwest of Hawthorne. We examine the fault’s recent slip history in two fault trenches and through detailed surficial mapping of the fan. Preliminary results from the Rose Creek trenches indicate;(a) at least two surface rupturing earthquakes between ~9400±95 calendar years B.P. and ~600-2000 14C years B.P. on the intermediate age surface at the apex of the fan, and (b) at least 2 surface rupturing events prior to ~600-2000 14C years B.P. on the younger fan surface. Offset of stratigraphic units provides evidence for a large penultimate event followed by a smaller most recent event, and we estimate a Holocene recurrence interval of ~3650-4450 years for surface rupturing earthquakes on the Wassuk Range fault zone. Additionally, GPS observation indicates that the Wassuk Range lies in a zone of transtensional strain accumulation. A marked increase in westward velocity between GPS sites WALK and EWLK suggests a geodetically estimated extension rate for the WRFZ on the order of 0.5-1mm/ yr. These results highlight the WRFZ as a likely target for geothermal productivity.
Download: Click here File Size: