A multi-scale high-resolution geophysical and geological study was conducted in the Sevier Desert, central Utah, found within the Colorado Plateau-Basin and Range Transition Zone. The region is marked by with Quaternary volcanics and faulting as young as 660 yr B.P., with many fault scarps thought to have the potential for 7+ magnitude earthquakes. Three locations within the Sevier Desert which represent three different tectonic expressions of possible faulting at the surface were selected. These include a location found within surface sedimentation, a location with surface sedimentation and sub-surface basalts and a location with basalts, at the surface with very limited sedimentation. A suite of geophysical data were obtained including the use of P-wave, SH-wave, ground-penetrating radar (GPR). Auger holes, microprobe glass analysis, and mapping information were also completed in order to constrain and gain a more complete understanding of the sub-surface structure. These data were used to determine if there are sub-surface expressions of the possible surface scarps and if all the faults within the fault zone have the same structural style. The possible surface fault expressions were found to be connected to sub-surface fault expressions but with differing results within both sediments and basalts. Our data show that a multi-scale approach is needed to obtain a complete view of tectonic activity. The area faulting in the Sevier Desert penetrates at depth involving multiple complex styles that include some faulting that cuts recent lava flows and some that do not. The evidence also indicates that in at least some area faulting was episodic and others may be single events having implications on level of activity and hazard.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Geological Sciences



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Sevier Desert, Colorado Plateau-Basin and Range Transition Zone, Quaternary volcanics, faulting, P-wave, SH-wave, ground-penetrating radar, microprobe glass analysis, hazard

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