US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in TECTONICS, VOL. 8, NO. 2, PAGES 237-246, APRIL 1989


The 1983 Coalinga earthquake occurred at the eastern boundary of the California Coast Ranges in response to northeast directed thrusting. Such movements over the past 2 Ma have produced Coalinga anticline by folding above the blind eastern tip of the Coalinga thrust zone. The 600-km length of the Coast Ranges boundary shares a common structural setting that involves westward upturn of Cenozoic and Cretaceou strata at the eastern front of the Coast Ranges and a major, southwest facing step in the basement surface beneath the western Great Valley. Like Coalinga anticline, Pliocene and Quaternary folding and faulting along the rest of the boundary also result from northeast-southwest compression acting nearly perpendicular to the strike of the San Andreas fault. We suggest that much of this deformation is related to active thrusts beneath the eastern Coast Ranges. The step in the basement surface beneath the Great Valley seems to have controlled the distribution of this deformation and the shape of the Coast Ranges boundary.