The 1934 Ms 6.6 Hansel Valley, Utah, earthquake produced an 8-km-long by 3-km-wide zone of north-south−trending surface deformation in an extensional basin within the easternmost Basin and Range Province. Less than 0.5 m of purely vertical displacement was measured at the surface, although seismologic data suggest mostly strike-slip faulting at depth. Characterization of the origin and kinematics of faulting in the Hansel Valley earthquake is important to understand how complex fault ruptures accommodate regions of continental extension and transtension. Here, we address three questions: (1) How does the 1934 surface rupture compare with faults in the subsurface? (2) Are the 1934 fault scarps tectonic or secondary features? (3) Did the 1934 earthquake have components of both strike-slip and dip-slip motion? To address these questions, we acquired a 6.6-km-long, high-resolution seismic profile across Hansel Valley, including the 1934 ruptures. We observed numerous east- and west-dipping normal faults that dip 40°−70° and offset late Quaternary strata from within a few tens of meters of the surface down to a depth of ∼1 km. Spatial correspondence between the 1934 surface ruptures and subsurface faults suggests that ruptures associated with the earthquake are of tectonic origin. Our data clearly show complex basin faulting that is most consistent with transtensional tectonics. Although the kinematics of the 1934 earthquake remain underconstrained, we interpret the disagreement between surface (normal) and subsurface (strike-slip) kinematics as due to slip partitioning during fault propagation and to the effect of preexisting structural complexities. We infer that the 1934 earthquake occurred along an ∼3-km wide, off-fault damage zone characterized by distributed deformation along small-displacement faults that may be alternatively activated during different earthquake episodes.
- Received 18 February 2016.
- Revision received 19 January 2017.
- Accepted 27 March 2017.
- © Geological Society of America