DOI: 10.1785/bssa0860051459 ISSN: 1943-3573

Application of ground-penetrating radar to investigation of near-surface fault properties in the San Francisco Bay region

Jun Cai, George A. McMechan, Michael A. Fisher
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics


In many geologic environments, ground-penetrating radar (GPR) provides high-resolution images of near-surface Earth structure. GPR data collection is nondestructive and very economical. The scale of features detected by GPR lies between those imaged by high-resolution seismic reflection surveys and those exposed in trenches and is therefore potentially complementary to traditional techniques for fault location and mapping. Sixty-two GPR profiles were collected at 12 sites in the San Francisco Bay region. Results show that GPR data correlate with large-scale features in existing trench observations, can be used to locate faults where they are buried or where their positions are not well known, and can identify previously unknown fault segments. The best data acquired were on a profile across the San Andreas fault, traversing Pleistocene terrace deposits south of Olema in Marin County; this profile shows a complicated multi-branched fault system from the ground surface down to about 40 m, the maximum depth for which data were recorded.

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