FIGURE 4.23 Topographic map of a short segment of the 1999 Hector Mine earthquake in California’s Mojave desert, constructed from LIDAR data, showing small-scale features associated with the faulting. SOURCE: K. Hudnut, U.S. Geological Survey.

Geochronology Inferring crustal deformation rates and dating events requires appropriate measures of geologic time. The dates and extent of fault ruptures can be documented by historical records (81), but only for the last couple of millennia at most. Advances in the diversity and precision of geochronological techniques are now being applied to dating the geologic layers and erosional surfaces disturbed by prehistoric earthquakes. For example, dendrochronology (the use of annual growth rings from trees) has pinned down the dates and locations of fault ruptures in Alaska and along the San Andreas fault, and has been used to determine the dates of subduction-related submergence of coastal Washington and massive seismically induced landslides in urban Seattle (82). Other dating methods used in earthquake geology include tephrochronology, thermoluminescence,

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