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Science Tour - 3D/4D mapping of the San Andreas Fault Zone

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Background: The Great San Francisco of Earthquake of 1906 was largely responsible for the initiation of geologic research into understanding fault systems that arguably played a significant role in the development of the theory of plate tectonics. After 100 years of investigations, much knowledge has been gained, yet much remains unknown. Earthquake prediction still remains elusive, but information about fault system history and behavior are essential for developing factual information to help in disaster preparedness and designing safe infrastructure in earthquake hazard zones (which includes most of California).

This science tour illustrates ongoing research associated with the most notorious San Andreas Fault System, with focus on the Northern and Central sections of the fault system in central and northern California (see figure). With the advancement of imaging technologies and the accumulation of data through earthquake monitoring, surficial mapping, and geophysical mapping, scientists are hoping to address two fundamental questions:

1. How does the 3-D geology of a fault zone affect fault behavior?

2. What is the deformational history of the western continental margin since about 30 Ma?

alt="Map of the San Andreas Fault System modified from Shultz and Wallace, 1997, showing three sectional subdivision: Northern, Central, and Southern fault zones in California"

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