6km (4mi) NW of American Canyon, California
9km (6mi) SSW of Napa, California
13km (8mi) NNW of Vallejo, California
14km (9mi) SE of Sonoma, California
82km (51mi) WSW of Sacramento, California
The earthquake lies within a 70-km-wide (44 miles) set of major faults of the San Andreas Fault system that forms the boundary between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. The persistent northwestward movement of the Pacific plate relative to North America primarily causes right-lateral slip across the major faults, but also causes deformation between the major faults. The ongoing complex deformation field is revealed by modern geodetic surveys and earthquake patterns as well as the regional geologic structure. The earthquake is located at the eastern shore of San Pablo Bay between two major active fault systems: the Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault system on the west and the Concord-Green Valley Fault system on the east. The earthquake occurred near the well-known West Napa Fault, and the less well known Carneros-Franklin Faults, which juxtapose different suites of rocks. Although there are several faults in the region of the earthquake, only the West Napa Fault is known to have displaced Holocene-age sediment — which is positive evidence of surface fault rupture in the last 11,000 years.
Historically, in this region shaking sufficient to seriously damage structures at Mare Island occurred during the M6.8 1868 Hayward Fault earthquake, the M7.8 1906 San Andreas Fault earthquake, and particularly during the M6.3 1898 Mare Island earthquake. The 1898 earthquake may have occurred about 20 km (12 miles) to the northwest on the southern Rodgers Creek Fault. Even larger nearby events than the 1898 earthquake can be expected in the future. In addition, the epicentral region of this earthquake is depicted on the USGS National Seismic Hazard Maps to have a high probability of strong shaking in the future.
The earthquake is located between two major, largely strike-slip fault systems. The Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault system, which is approximately 7 km (4 miles) west of the site, generated damaging earthquakes in 1868 and probably in 1898. The Concord-Green Valley Fault system, which is 12 km (7 miles) east of the site, produced a M5.5 earthquake in 1954; while it has not generated a large historical event, there is strong evidence for recent pre-historic activity. The 1999 Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities (WG99, 1999) concluded that the Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault system has a 32 percent probability of generating a large earthquake (M6.7 to 7.4) by the year 2030, and the Concord-Green Valley Fault system has a 6 percent chance of generating a large earthquake (M≥6.7) in the same time period.
The earthquake occurred near the north shore of San Pablo Bay. The bayshore areas in the San Francisco Bay region are underlain by landfill and bay mud and have experienced disproportionately greater damage during historic earthquakes. Such damage is caused by soil failure in the fills and amplification of ground shaking by the soft bay mud.
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