New constraints on slip-rates, recurrence intervals, and strain partitioning beneath Pyramid Lake, Nevada
AuthorEisses, Amy Kendra
Geological Sciences and Engineering
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A high-resolution CHIRP seismic survey of Pyramid Lake, Nevada, located within the northern Walker Lane Deformation Belt, was conducted in summer 2010. Seismic CHIRP data with submeter vertical accuracy, together with piston and gravity cores, were used to calculate Holocene vertical slip rates, relative earthquake timing, and produce the first complete fault map beneath the lake. More than 500 line-kilometers of CHIRP data imaged complex fault patterns throughout the basin. Fault architecture beneath Pyramid Lake highlights a polarity flip, where down-to-the west patterns of sedimentation near the dextral Pyramid Lake fault to the south give way to down-to-the-east geometries to the north within a mostly normal (i.e., Lake Range fault) and transtensional environment. The Lake Range fault predominantly controls extensional deformation within the northern two-thirds of the basin and exhibits varying degrees of asymmetric tilting and divergence due to along-strike segmentation. This observation is likely a combination of fault segments splaying onshore moving the focus of extension away from the lake coupled with some true along-strike differences in slip-rate. The combination of normal and oblique-slip faults in the northern basin gives Pyramid Lake its distinctive "fanning open to the north" tectonic geometry. The dense network of oblique-slip faults in the northwestern region of the lake, in contrast to the well-defined Lake Range fault, are short and discontinuous in nature, and possible represent a nascent shear zone. Preliminary vertical slip-rates measured across the Lake Range and other faults provide new estimates on the extension across the Pyramid Lake basin. A minimum vertical slip rate of ~1.0 mm/yr is estimated along the Lake Range fault, which yields a potential earthquake magnitude range between M6.4 and M7.0. A rapid influx of sediment was deposited shortly after the end of the Tioga glaciation somewhere between 12.5 ka to 9.5 ka and provides a punctuated short-term record of little to no slip on the Lake Range fault. In contrast, for the past 9,500 years, the basin has experienced a decrease in sedimentation rate, but an escalation in earthquake activity on the Lake Range fault, with the potential of 3 or 4 major earthquakes assuming a characteristic offset of 2.5 m per event. Regionally, our CHIRP investigation helps to reveal how strain is partitioned along the boundary between the eastern edge of the Walker Lane Deformation Belt and the northwest Great Basin proper.