A seismic compressed high-intensity radar pulse (CHIRP) survey of Pyramid Lake, Nevada, defines fault architecture and distribution within a key sector of the northern Walker Lane belt. More than 500 line-kilometers of high-resolution (decimeter) subsurface imagery, together with dated piston and gravity cores, were used to produce the first comprehensive fault map and attendant slip rates beneath the lake. A reversal of fault polarity is observed beneath Pyramid Lake, where down-to-the-east slip on the dextral Pyramid Lake fault to the south switches to down-to-the-west displacement on the Lake Range fault to the north. Extensional deformation within the northern two thirds of the basin is bounded by the Lake Range fault, which exhibits varying degrees of asymmetric tilting and stratal divergence due to along-strike segmentation. This structural configuration likely results from a combination of changes in slip rate along strike and the splaying of fault segments onshore. The potential splaying of fault segments onshore tends to shift the focus of extension away from the lake. The combination of normal- and oblique-slip faults in the northern basin gives Pyramid Lake its distinctive “fanning open to the north” geometry. The oblique-slip faults in the northwestern region of the lake are short and discontinuous in nature, possibly representing a nascent shear zone. In contrast, the Lake Range fault is long and well defined. Vertical slip rates measured across the Lake Range and other faults provide new estimates on extension across the Pyramid Lake basin. A minimum vertical slip rate of ∼1.0 mm/yr is estimated along the Lake Range fault. When combined with fault length, slip rates yield a potential earthquake magnitude range between M6.4 and M7.0. Little to no offset on the Lake Range fault is observed in the sediment rapidly emplaced at the end of Tioga glaciation (12.5–9.5 ka). In contrast, since 9.5 ka, CHIRP imagery provides evidence for three or four major earthquakes, assuming a characteristic offset of 2.5 m per event. Regionally, our CHIRP investigation helps to reveal how strain is partitioned along the boundary between the northeastern edge of the Walker Lane and the northwest Basin and Range Province proper.
- Received 16 May 2012.
- Revision received 21 January 2015.
- Accepted 26 March 2015.
- © 2015 Geological Society of America