Arkosic Rocks from the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD) Borehole, Central California: Implications for the Structure and Tectonics of the San Andreas Fault Zone

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Geological Society of America

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The San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD) drill hole encountered indurated, high-seismic-velocity arkosic sedimentary rocks west of the active trace of the San Andreas fault in central California. The arkosic rocks are juxtaposed against granitic rocks of the Salinian block to the southwest and against fine-grained Great Valley Group and Jurassic Franciscan rocks to the northeast. We identify three distinct lithologic units using cuttings, core petrography, electrical resistivity image logs, zircon fission-track analyses, and borehole-based geophysical logs. The upper arkose occurs from 1920 to 2530 m measured depth (mmd) in the borehole and is composed of five structural blocks defined by bedding orientations, wireline log character, physical properties, and lithologic characteristics. A clay-rich zone between 2530 and 2680 mmd is characterized by low Vp and an enlarged borehole. The lower arkose lies between 2680 and 3150 mmd. Fission-track detrital zircon cooling ages are between 64 and 70 Ma, appear to belong to a single population, and indicate a latest Cretaceous to Paleogene maximum depositional age. We interpret these Paleocene–Eocene strata to have been deposited in a proximal submarine fan setting shed from a Salinian source block, and they correlate with units to the southeast, along the western and southern edge of the San Joaquin Basin, and with arkosic conglomerates to the northwest. The arkosic section constitutes a deformed fault-bounded block between the modern strand of the San Andreas fault to the northeast and the Buzzard Canyon fault to the southwest. Significant amounts of slip appear to have been accommodated on both strands of the fault at this latitude.