Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Paul Wetmore, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Chuck Connor, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sarah Kruse, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Fletcher, Ph.D.


Gravity, Magnetics, Baja California, San Andreas, Fluvial Terraces


The Agua Blanca fault is a major transverse structure of northern Baja California, extending more than 120km east from the Punta Banda ridge near the city of Ensenada to the San Matais Pass in central Baja. Through much of its eastern extent slip on this fault appears to be pure strike slip, however, at the Valle de Santo Tomás the fault makes a ~25°; change in orientation, which coincides with the formation of extensional basins on the fault. Recent evidence of the independent movement of the Baja Micro-plate relative to a stable Southern California Black leads to several possible hypotheses to explain this including:

1)That basins are localized structures, the result of a series of right steps or bends along the dextral Agua Blanca fault.

2)Basins are transtensional, possibly as a result of complexities associated with the northern boundary of the Baja Micro-plate .

To test between these hypotheses it was necessary to constrain the fault kinematics on both basin bounding and in-basin faults, well as the basin geometry. This was accomplished through combined structural and geophysical surveys.

Data collected suggest that the majority of dip-slip is confined to the Santo Tomás fault bounding the basin to the south, while the Agua Blanca fault bounding the basin to the north is primarily strike slip. This orientation typical in transtensional basins, suggesting that although Valle de Santo Tomás formed at a step over it is not a pull apart basin. Possible explanations for transtension in this area come from the orientation of the Agua Blanca fault in relation to the Baja Micro-plate. Where the fault is close to aligned with the relative motion of the plate there is little transtension, such as in Valle de Agua Blanca, however, where the fault makes a 25° change in orientation and becomes more oblique the motion of the Baja Micro-plate transtension is present.