Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Department name when degree awarded


Committee Chair(s)

James P. Evans


James P. Evans


Susanne Janecke


John Shervais


The aim of the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD) project, a component of the NSF Earthscope Initiative, is to directly observe active fault processes at seismogenic depths through the drilling of a 3 km deep (true vertical depth) inclined borehole across San Andreas fault. Preliminary subsurface models based on surface mapping and geophysical data predicted different lithologies than were actually encountered. At 1920 meters measured depth (mmd), a sequence of well-indurated, interbedded arkosic conglomerates, sandstones, and siltstones was encountered. We present a detailed lithologic and structural characterization as a step toward understanding the complex geologic history of this fault-bounded block of arkosic sedimentary rocks. We divide the arkosic section into three lithologic units with different compositional, structural, and sedimentary features: the upper arkose, 1920-2530 mmd, the clay-rich zone, 2530-2680 Illtlld, and the lower arkose, 2680-3150 mmd. We interpret the section to have been deposited in a Salinian transtensional basin, in either a subaqueous or subaerial fan setting. We suggest four different possibly equivalent sedimentary units to the SAFOD arkoses, the locations of which are dependent on how the San Andreas fault system has evolved over time in the vicinity of the SAFOD site. Detailed analysis of three subsidiary faults encountered in the arkosic section at 1920 mmd, 2530 mmd, and 3060 mmd, shows that subsurface faults have similar microstructures and composition as exhumed faults at the surface, with less evidence of alteration from extensive fluid flow.



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