US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 102, NO. B3, PAGES 5473-5490, MARCH 10, 1997


This paper presents new seismic data from, and crustal models of the San Francisco Peninsula. In much of central California the San Andreas fault juxtaposes the Cretaceous granitic Salinian terrane on its west and the Late Mesozoic/Early Tertiary Franciscan Complex on its east. On San Francisco Peninsula, however, the present-day San Andreas fault is completely within a Franciscan terrane, and the Pilarcitos fault, located southwest of the San Andreas, marks the Salinian-Franciscan boundary. This circumstance has evoked two different explanations: either the Pilarcitos is a thrust fault that has pushed Franciscan rocks over Salinian rocks or the Pilarcitos is a transform fault that has accommodated significant right-lateral slip. In an effort to better resolve the subsurface structure of the peninsula faults, we established a temporary network of 31 seismographs arrayed across the San Andreas fault and the subparallel Pilarcitos fault at ~1-2 km spacings. These instruments were deployed during the first 6 months of 1995 and recorded local earthquakes, air gun sources set off in San Francisco Bay, and explosive sources. Travel times from these sources were used to augment earthquake arrival times recorded by the Northern California Seismic Network and were inverted for three-dimensional velocity structure. Results show lateral velocity changes at depth (~0.5-7 km) that correlate with downward vertical projections of the surface traces of the San Andreas and Pilarcitos faults. We thus interpret the faults as high-angle to vertical features (constrained to a 70 °-110 ° dip range). From this we concludet hat the Pilarcitos fault is probably an important strike-slip fault that accommodated much of the rightlateral plate boundary strain on the peninsula prior to the initiation of the modern-day San Andreas fault in this region sometime after about 3.0 m.y. ago.