Quaternary slip rates on the White Mountains fault zone, eastern California: Implications for comparing geologic to geodetic slip rates across the Walker Lane

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Geological Sciences

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The White Mountains fault zone in eastern California is a major fault system that accommodates right-lateral shear across the southern Walker Lane. We combined field geomorphic mapping and interpretation of high-resolution airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) digital elevation models with 10Be cosmogenic nuclide exposure ages to calculate new late Pleistocene and Holocene right-lateral slip rates on the White Mountains fault zone. Alluvial fans were found to have ages of 46.6 + 11.0/–10.0 ka and 7.3 + 4.2/–4.5 ka, with right-lateral displacements of 65 ± 13 m and 14 ± 5 m, respectively, yielding a minimum average slip rate of 1.4 ± 0.3 mm/yr. These new slip rates help to resolve the kinematics of fault slip across this part of the complex Pacific–North American plate boundary. Our results suggest that late Pleistocene slip rates on the White Mountains fault zone were significantly faster than previously reported. These results also help to reconcile a portion of the observed discrepancy between modern geodetic strain rates and known late Pleistocene slip rates in the southern Walker Lane. The total middle to late Pleistocene slip rate from the southern Walker Lane near 37.5°N was 7.9 + 1.3/–0.6 mm/yr, ∼75% of the observed modern geodetic rate.


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