A Kinematic Model for the Evolution of the Eastern California Shear Zone and Garlock Fault, Mojave Desert, California

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Eastern California Shear Zone, kinematic model, Garlock fault, slip rate, total displacement

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The Eastern California shear zone in the Mojave Desert, California, accommodates nearly a quarter of Pacific–North America plate motion. In south-central Mojave, the shear zone consists of six active faults, with the central Calico fault having the fastest slip rate. However, faults to the east of the Calico fault have larger total offsets. We explain this pattern of slip rate and total offset with a model involving a crustal block (the Mojave Block) that migrates eastward relative to a shear zone at depth whose position and orientation is fixed by the Coachella segment of the San Andreas fault (SAF), southwest of the transpressive “big bend” in the SAF. Both the shear zone and the Garlock fault are assumed to be a direct result of this restraining bend, and consequent strain redistribution. The model explains several aspects of local and regional tectonics, may apply to other transpressive continental plate boundary zones, and may improve seismic hazard estimates in these zones.

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Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 494, p. 60-68