Polyphase kinematic history of transpression along the Mecca Hills segment of the San Andreas fault, southern California
Miocene–Pliocene sedimentary rocks in the Mecca Hills, southern California, were uplifted and deformed by transpression along a restraining bend in the San Andreas fault trace between the Orocopia and San Bernardino Mountains in Pleistocene time. This paper presents field evidence for three stages of structural evolution of a complex, asymmetric wedge-like flower structure, expressed as: (1) subhorizontal en échelon folds and faults oblique to the San Andreas fault; (2) steeply plunging folds subparallel to the San Andreas fault; and (3) folds and thrust faults fully parallel to the San Andreas fault. We argue that the resulting flower-structure deformation formed successively from early distributed transpression through full (?) strain partitioning, rather than from active, synchronous, strike-slip–forming movements, as expected. The model is supported by crosscut relations of major folds and faults and strain estimates from minor conjugate shear fracture sets. The polyphase evolution initiated on a steep right-lateral strand of the San Andreas fault, producing thick fault gouge. Then, the adjacent Neogene strata were folded en échelon outward in a uniformly distributed simple shear strain field. The subsidiary Skeleton Canyon fault formed along a restraining bend that localized right-lateral shearing along this fault, and reshaped the en échelon folds into steeply plunging folds almost parallel to the San Andreas fault in a nascent partly partitioned strain field. The final kinematic stage generated SW-verging folds and thrust faults trending parallel to the San Andreas fault and decapitated the en échelon folds and faults. The switch from early, distributed strike-slip to late-stage regional slip-partitioned shortening (fold-thrust) deformation may have been locally induced by the bending geometry of the fault. The polyphase structures were active in successive order to balance the driving forces in one or more critical-angled transpressional and fold-and-thrust uplift wedges. Fault-related shortening, uplift, and erosion are still controlled in the Mecca Hills by combining and adjusting the wedges with low convergence angle, transpression, and lateral crustal motion in a San Andreas fault plate scenario. Our model, therefore, addresses a more nuanced view of a polyphase flower-structure system and highlights the need to more carefully sort out spatially and temporally different kinematic data as a basis for analog and numerical modeling of transpressional uplift areas.
Source at https://doi.org/10.1130/GES02027.1.