Growth, Linkage, and Termination Processes of a 10-km-Long Strike-Slip Fault in Jointed Granite: The Gemini Fault Zone, Sierra Nevada, California
Journal of Structural Geology
Field-based structural analysis of an exhumed, ~10-km-long strike-slip fault zone elucidates processes of growth, linkage, and termination along moderately sized strike-slip fault zones in granitic rocks. The Gemini fault zone is a 9.3-km-long, left-lateral fault system that was active at depths of 8–11 km within the transpressive Late-Cretaceous Sierran magmatic arc. The fault zone cuts four granitic plutons and is composed of three steeply dipping northeast- and southwest-striking noncoplanar segments that nucleated and grew along preexisting cooling joints. The fault core is bounded by subparallel fault planes that separate highly fractured epidote-, chlorite-, and quartz-breccias from undeformed protolith. The slip profile along the Gemini fault zone shows that the fault zone consists of three 2–3-km-long segments separated by two ‘zones’ of local slip minima. Slip is highest (131 m) on the western third of the fault zone and tapers to zero at the eastern termination. Slip vectors plunge shallowly west-southwest and show significant variability along strike and across segment boundaries. Four types of microstructures reflect compositional changes in protolith along strike and show that deformation was concentrated on narrow slip surfaces at, or below, greenschist facies conditions. Taken together, we interpret the fault zone to be a segmented, linked fault zone in which geometrical complexities of the faults and compositional variations of protolith and fault rock resulted in nonuniform slip orientations, complex fault-segment interactions, and asymmetric slip-distance profiles.
Pachell, M. A., and Evans, J. P., 2002, Structural analysis of the Gemini strike-slip fault zone, Central Sierra Nevada, California: J. Structural Geology, v. 24, p. 1903-1924.