The Evergreen basin is a 40-km-long, 8-km-wide Cenozoic sedimentary basin that lies mostly concealed beneath the northeastern margin of the Santa Clara Valley near the south end of San Francisco Bay (California, USA). The basin is bounded on the northeast by the strike-slip Hayward fault and an approximately parallel subsurface fault that is structurally overlain by a set of west-verging reverse-oblique faults which form the present-day southeastward extension of the Hayward fault. It is bounded on the southwest by the Silver Creek fault, a largely dormant or abandoned fault that splays from the active southern Calaveras fault. We propose that the Evergreen basin formed as a strike-slip pull-apart basin in the right step from the Silver Creek fault to the Hayward fault during a time when the Silver Creek fault served as a segment of the main route by which slip was transferred from the central California San Andreas fault to the Hayward and other East Bay faults. The dimensions and shape of the Evergreen basin, together with palinspastic reconstructions of geologic and geophysical features surrounding it, suggest that during its lifetime, the Silver Creek fault transferred a significant portion of the ∼100 km of total offset accommodated by the Hayward fault, and of the 175 km of total San Andreas system offset thought to have been accommodated by the entire East Bay fault system. As shown previously, at ca. 1.5–2.5 Ma the Hayward-Calaveras connection changed from a right-step, releasing regime to a left-step, restraining regime, with the consequent effective abandonment of the Silver Creek fault. This reorganization was, perhaps, preceded by development of the previously proposed basin-bisecting Mount Misery fault, a fault that directly linked the southern end of the Hayward fault with the southern Calaveras fault during extinction of pull-apart activity. Historic seismicity indicates that slip below a depth of 5 km is mostly transferred from the Calaveras fault to the Hayward fault across the Mission seismic trend northeast of the Evergreen basin, whereas slip above a depth of 5 km is transferred through a complex zone of oblique-reverse faults along and over the northeast basin margin. However, a prominent groundwater flow barrier and related land-subsidence discontinuity coincident with the concealed Silver Creek fault, a discontinuity in the pattern of seismicity on the Calaveras fault at the Silver Creek fault intersection, and a structural sag indicative of a negative flower structure in Quaternary sediments along the southwest basin margin indicate that the Silver Creek fault has had minor ongoing slip over the past few hundred thousand years. Two earthquakes with ∼M6 occurred in A.D. 1903 in the vicinity of the Silver Creek fault, but the available information is not sufficient to reliably identify them as Silver Creek fault events.
- Received 22 June 2016.
- Revision received 9 November 2016.
- Accepted 14 December 2016.
- © Geological Society of America