Quaternary displacement on the joiner ridge fault, eastern Arkansas


The New Madrid seismic zone of the central United States is an intraplate seismic zone with blind structures that are not seismically active but may pose seismic hazards. The Joiner ridge fault (JRF) is the 35-kilometer-long east-bounding fault of the Joiner ridge blind horst located in eastern Arkansas ∼50 km northwest of Memphis, Tennessee. Shallow S-wave (SH-mode) seismic reflection profiles, continuous cores, and radiometric dating of Quaternary alluvium across the JRF reveal down-to-the-east reverse faulting and folding of Eocene strata and overlying Quaternary Mississippi River alluvium. The base of the Quaternary alluvium has an age of 20.3 ka and is vertically displaced 12 m, resulting in an average slip rate of 0:6 ± 0:1 mm=yr over the past 20.3 ka. The overlying upper Wisconsinan and Holocene alluvial facies are also displaced by the JRF. These facies increase in thickness across the JRF and were used to calculate late Wisconsinan and Holocene slip histories. The JRF slipped 7 m between 20.3 and 17.5 ka, 3 m between 12.3 and 11.5 ka, and 2 m between 11.5 and 8.9 ka. No apparent slip occurred on the JRF within the last 8.9 ka. This research illustrates that slip has been intermittent and that slip magnitudes on the JRF diminished through the late Wisconsinan and early Holocene.

Publication Title

Seismological Research Letters