We examine the Pleistocene tectonic reorganization of the Pacific–North American plate boundary in the Salton Trough of southern California with an integrated approach that includes basin analysis, magnetostratigraphy, and geologic mapping of upper Pliocene to Pleistocene sedimentary rocks in the San Felipe Hills. These deposits preserve the earliest sedimentary record of movement on the San Felipe and San Jacinto fault zones that replaced and deactivated the late Cenozoic West Salton detachment fault. Sandstone and mudstone of the Brawley Formation accumulated between ∼1.1 and ∼0.6–0.5 Ma in a delta on the margin of an arid Pleistocene lake, which received sediment from alluvial fans of the Ocotillo Formation to the west-southwest. Our analysis indicates that the Ocotillo and Brawley formations prograded abruptly to the east-northeast across a former mud-dominated perennial lake (Borrego Formation) at ∼1.1 Ma in response to initiation of the dextral-oblique San Felipe fault zone. The ∼25-km-long San Felipe anticline initiated at about the same time and produced an intrabasinal basement-cored high within the San Felipe–Borrego basin that is recorded by progressive unconformities on its north and south limbs. A disconformity at the base of the Brawley Formation in the eastern San Felipe Hills probably records initiation and early blind slip at the southeast tip of the Clark strand of the San Jacinto fault zone. Our data are consistent with abrupt and nearly synchronous inception of the San Jacinto and San Felipe fault zones southwest of the southern San Andreas fault in the early Pleistocene during a pronounced southwestward broadening of the San Andreas fault zone. The current contractional geometry of the San Jacinto fault zone developed after ∼0.5–0.6 Ma during a second, less significant change in structural style.
Journal of Geology
Required Publisher's Statement
© 2007 University of Chicago Press. View original article in Journal of Geology.
Kirby, Stefan M.; Janecke, Susanne U.; Dorsey, Rebecca J.; Housen, Bernard A.; Langenheim, Victoria E.; McDougall, Kristin A.; and Steely, Alexander N., "Pleistocene Brawley and Ocotillo Formations: Evidence for Initial Strike-Slip Deformation Along the San Felipe and San Jacinto Fault Zones, Southern California" (2007). Geology. Paper 10.