STUDIES IN GEOPHYSICS

Active Tectonics

Geophysics Study Committee

Geophysics Research Forum

Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Resources

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1986



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Active Tectonics: Studies in Geophysics STUDIES IN GEOPHYSICS Active Tectonics Geophysics Study Committee Geophysics Research Forum Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Resources National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1986

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Active Tectonics: Studies in Geophysics NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the Councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for this report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was established by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and of advising the federal government. The Council operates in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy under the authority of its congressional charter of 1863, which establishes the Academy as a private, nonprofit, self-governing membership corporation. The Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in the conduct of their services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. It is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine were established in 1964 and 1970, respectively, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences. The Geophysics Study Committee is pleased to acknowledge the support of the National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Department of Energy (Grant #DE-FGO2–82ER12018) for the conduct of this study. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Main entry under title: Active tectonics. (Studies in geophysics) Includes index. 1. Geology, Structural—Addresses, essays, lectures. I. Geophysics Research Forum (U.S.) Geophysics Study Committee. II. Series. QE601.A25 1986 551.8 85–32026 ISBN 0-309-03638-0 Printed in the United States of America National Academy Press The National Academy Press was created by the National Academy of Sciences to publish the reports issued by the Academy and by the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council, all operating under the charter granted to the National Academy of Sciences by the Congress of the United States.

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Active Tectonics: Studies in Geophysics Panel on Active Tectonics ROBERT E.WALLACE, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, Chairman CLARENCE R.ALLEN, California Institute of Technology LARRY D.BROWN, Cornell University LLOYD S.CLUFF, Pacific Gas & Electric BRUCE M.CROWE, Los Alamos National Laboratory JOHN C.CROWELL, University of California, Santa Barbara EDWARD A.KELLER, University of California, Santa Barbara KENNETH R.LAJOIE, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park LARRY MAYER, Miami University DAVID NASH, University of Cincinnati DONALD W.PETERSON, U.S. Geological Survey, Vancouver KENNETH L.PIERCE, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver STANLEY A.SCHUMM, Colorado State University DAVID P.SCHWARTZ, Woodward-Clyde Consultants D.BURTON SLEMMONS, University of Nevada, Reno ARTHUR G.SYLVESTER, University of California, Santa Barbara WAYNE THATCHER, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park ROBERT S.YEATS, Oregon State University Staff THOMAS M.USSELMAN

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Active Tectonics: Studies in Geophysics Geophysics Study Committee ARTHUR E.MAXWELL, The University of Texas at Austin, Chairman †ALLEN F.AGNEW, Geological Consultant, Corvallis, Oregon †RICHARD A.ANTHES, National Center for Atmospheric Research *COLIN BULL, Mercer Island, Washington GORDON P.EATON, Texas A&M University DEVRIE S.INTRILIGATOR, Carmel Research Center *NICHOLAS C.MATALAS, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston J.MURRAY MITCHELL, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration *V.RAMA MURTHY, University of Minnesota †RICHARD J.O’CONNELL, Harvard University †MARTIN WALT, Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, Inc. FERRIS WEBSTER, University of Delaware Liaison Representatives RALPH ALEWINE, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency BRUCE B.HANSHAW, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston GEORGE A.KOLSTAD, Department of Energy MICHAEL MAYHEW, National Science Foundation NED OSTENSO, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration SHELBY TILFORD, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Staff THOMAS M.USSELMAN *   Terms ended June 30, 1985. †   Terms began July 1, 1985.

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Active Tectonics: Studies in Geophysics Geophysics Research Forum DON L.ANDERSON, California Institute of Technology, Chairman STANLEY I.AUERBACH, Oak Ridge National Laboratory JOHN J.BOLAND, The Johns Hopkins University THOMAS M.DONAHUE, University of Michigan CHARLES L.DRAKE, Dartmouth College PETER S.EAGLESON, Massachusetts Institute of Technology W.GARY ERNST, University of California, Los Angeles JOHN D.HAUN, Evergreen, Colorado WILLIAM W.HAY, University of Colorado CHARLES L.HOSLER, Pennsylvania State University DEVRIE S.INTRILIGATOR, Carmel Research Center KEITH A.KVENVOLDEN, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park C.GORDON LITTLE, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration CHARLES J.MANKIN, Oklahoma Geological Survey ARTHUR E.MAXWELL, The University of Texas at Austin FRANK B.McDONALD, National Aeronautics and Space Administration WALTER H.MUNK, University of California, San Diego JACK E.OLIVER, Cornell University EUGENE N.PARKER, The University of Chicago FRANK L.PARKER, Vanderbilt University HOWARD J.PINCUS, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee PAUL W.POMEROY, Rondout Associates, Inc. RICHARD H.RAPP, The Ohio State University ROGER R.REVELLE, University of California, San Diego VERNER E.SUOMI, University of Wisconsin, Madison FERRIS WEBSTER, University of Delaware GUNTER E.WELLER, University of Alaska

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Active Tectonics: Studies in Geophysics Ex Officio JOHN D.BOSSLER, National Geodetic Survey ROBERT K.CRANE, Dartmouth College FRANK D.DRAKE, University of California, Santa Cruz ROBERT HOFSTADTER, Stanford University Staff PEMBROKE J.HART

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Active Tectonics: Studies in Geophysics Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Resources HERBERT FRIEDMAN, National Research Council, Chairman CLARENCE R.ALLEN, California Institute of Technology THOMAS D.BARROW, Standard Oil Company, Ohio (Retired) ELKAN R.BLOUT, Harvard Medical School BERNARD F.BURKE, Massachusetts Institute of Technology GEORGE F.CARRIER, Harvard University CHARLES L.DRAKE, Dartmouth College MILDRED S.DRESSELHAUS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology JOSEPH L.FISHER, Office of the Governor, Commonwealth of Virginia JAMES C.FLETCHER, University of Pittsburgh WILLIAM A.FOWLER, California Institute of Technology GERHART FRIEDLANDER, Brookhaven National Laboratory EDWARD D.GOLDBERG, Scripps Institution of Oceanography MARY L.GOOD, Signal Research Center J.ROSS MacDONALD, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill THOMAS F.MALONE, Saint Joseph College CHARLES J.MANKIN, Oklahoma Geological Survey PERRY L.McCARTY, Stanford University WILLIAM D.PHILLIPS, Mallinckrodt, Inc. ROBERT E.SIEVERS, Harvard School of Public Health JOHN D.SPENGLER, Harvard School of Public Health GEORGE W.WETHERILL, Carnegie Institution of Washington IRVING WLADAWSKY-BERGER, IBM Corporation RAPHAEL G.KASPER, Executive Director LAWRENCE E.McCRAY, Associate Executive Director

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Active Tectonics: Studies in Geophysics Studies in Geophysics* ENERGY AND CLIMATE Roger R.Revelle, panel chairman, 1977, 158 pp. CLIMATE, CLIMATIC CHANGE, AND WATER SUPPLY James R.Wallis, panel chairman, 1977, 132 pp. ESTUARIES, GEOPHYSICS, AND THE ENVIRONMENT Charles B.Officer, panel chairman, 1977, 127 pp. THE UPPER ATMOSPHERE AND MAGNETOSPHERE Francis S.Johnson, panel chairman, 1977, 169 pp. GEOPHYSICAL PREDICTIONS Helmut E.Landsberg, panel chairman, 1978, 215 pp. IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY ON GEOPHYSICS Homer E.Newell, panel chairman, 1979, 121 pp. CONTINENTAL TECTONICS B.Clark Burchfiel, Jack E.Oliver, and Leon T.Silver, panel co-chairmen, 1980, 197 pp. MINERAL RESOURCES: GENETIC UNDERSTANDING FOR PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS Paul B.Barton, Jr., panel chairman, 1981, 118 pp. SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF WATER-RESOURCE MANAGEMENT Myron B.Fiering, panel chairman, 1982, 127 pp. SOLAR VARIABILITY, WEATHER, AND CLIMATE John A.Eddy, panel chairman, 1982, 106 pp. CLIMATE IN EARTH HISTORY Wolfgang H.Berger and John C.Crowell, panel co-chairmen, 1982, 197 pp. FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH ON ESTUARIES: THE IMPORTANCE OF AN INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACH Charles B.Officer and L.Eugene Cronin, panel co-chairmen, 1983, 79 pp. *   Published to date.

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Active Tectonics: Studies in Geophysics EXPLOSIVE VOLCANISM: INCEPTION, EVOLUTION, AND HAZARDS Francis R.Boyd, Jr., panel chairman, 1984, 176 pp. GROUND WATER CONTAMINATION John D.Bredehoeft, panel chairman, 1984, 179 pp. ACTIVE TECTONICS Robert E.Wallace, panel chairman, 1986, 266 pp.

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Active Tectonics: Studies in Geophysics Preface This study is part of a series of Studies in Geophysics that have been undertaken for the Geophysics Research Forum by the Geophysics Study Committee. One purpose of each study is to provide assessments from the scientific community to aid policymakers in decisions on societal problems that involve geophysics. An important part of such assessments is an evaluation of the adequacy of current geophysical knowledge and the appropriateness of current research programs as a source of information required for those decisions. This study on active tectonics was initiated by the Geophysics Study Committee and the Geophysics Research Forum in consultation with the liaison representatives of the agencies that support the Geophysics Study Committee, relevant committees and boards within the National Research Council, and members of the scientific community. The study addresses our current scientific understanding of active tectonics—particularly the patterns and rates of ongoing tectonic processes. Many of these processes cannot be described reasonably using the limited instrumental or historical records; however, most can be described adequately for practical purposes using the geologic record of the past 500,000 years. A program of fundamental research focusing especially on Quaternary tectonic geology and geomorphology, paleoseismology, neotectonics, and geodesy is recommended to better understand ongoing, active tectonic processes. The preliminary scientific findings of the authored background chapters were presented at an American Geophysical Union symposium in San Francisco in December 1983. In completing their chapters, the authors had the benefit of discussion at this symposium as well as the comments of several scientific referees. Ultimate responsibility for the individual chapters, however, rests with their authors. The Overview of the study summarizes the highlights of the chapters and formulates conclusions and recommendations. In preparing the Overview, the panel chairman and the Geophysics Study Committee had the benefit of meetings that took place at the symposium and of the comments of the panel of authors and other referees. Responsibility for the Overview rests with the Geophysics Study Committee and the chairman of the panel.

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