Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Three-dimensional mechanical simulations of the San Andreas fault (SAF) within the Coachella Valley in California produce deformation that match geologic observations and demonstrate the impact of fault geometry on uplift patterns. Most models that include the Coachella Valley segment of the SAF have assumed a vertical orientation, but recent studies suggest that this segment dips 60-70° northeast. We compare models with varied fault geometry and evaluate how well they reproduce observed uplift patterns. Our model with a dipping SAF matches geologic observations, while models containing a vertical fault do not. This suggests that the active Coachella Valley segment of the SAF dips 60-70° northeast.

Since ~1.5 Ma, the SAF in this region has undergone a major reorganization that entailed initiation of the San Jacinto fault and termination of slip on the West Salton detachment fault. The trace of the SAF itself has also evolved, with several shifts in activity through the San Gorgonio Pass. Despite a rich geologic record of these changes, the mechanisms that controlled abandonment of faults, initiation of new strands, and shifting loci of uplift are poorly understood. We model snapshots in time through the evolution of the fault system, and assess the mechanical viability of our snapshots by comparison with uplift patterns inferred from the stratigraphic record. Model results are compared with vertical axis rotation. We examine incipient faulting using maps of strain energy density, and explore changes to the mechanical efficiency of the system to better understand the evolution of this fault system.

First Advisor

Michele L Cooke