Geometry and evolution of the San Andreas fault zone in northern California

K. P. Furlong, W. D. Hugo, George Zandt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

87 Scopus citations


The evolution of the San Andreas fault system is controlled by thermal-mechanical processes associated with the development and evolution of a narrow "slabless window' formed beneath the western edge of North America. This fault zone evolution begins after initiation of transform motion along the plate boundary with the northward migration of the Mendocino triple junction. As a consequence of initial lithospheric structure and the shallow emplacement of asthenospheric mantle, the plate boundary separating the North American and Pacific plates follows a complex three-dimensional geometry which varies through time. Seismic velocity structure, heat flow, seismicity, surface deformation, uplift, and fault development are controlled by the evolving thermal structure in the region after triple junction passage. Thermal-mechanical models have been used to evaluate the fault system's time-varying three-dimensional dynamical behavior, simulating the principal processes involved in the thermal-mechanical evolution of the San Andreas fault system. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3100-3110
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue numberB3
Publication statusPublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)

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