Faults | U.S. Geological Survey

interactive fault map

  • interactive fault map
  • database search
  • collaborators

download data:

  • kml files (google earth) (13 mb kmz): includes 5 fault layers: Historic, Holocene to Late Pleistocene, Late Quaternary, Middle-Late Quaternary, Quaternary
  • gis files ( 16mb compressed file)

This database contains information on faults and associated folds in the United States that demonstrate geological evidence of coseismic surface deformation in large earthquakes during the last 1.6 million years (myr). At the time the Quaternary Fault and Fold Database was established (1993), the Quaternary time period was defined as <1.6 million on the 1983 Geologic Time Scale, published in 1983. In 1999, it was updated to 1.8 million, and in 2009 it was revised to 2.6 myr. most recently, in 2018, it was revised again to 2.58 million years old; refer to the gsa geologic time scale.

Reading: Fault lines in united states

In order to maintain a current and relevant data set, as of January 12, 2017, the USG will maintain a limited number of metadata fields characterizing United States Quaternary faults and folds. archived reports are accessible from the short log.

failure basics

  • Frequently Asked Questions about crashes: select the topic “crashes”

About Quaternary Faults and National Seismic Hazard Maps

This database was used to create fault source characterization on national seismic hazard maps. for hazard maps, both the fault surface plot and the metadata are simplified representations of the fault geometry and behavior, based on geological interpretation.

appointment information

When using this data, please provide proper acknowledgment. Because there are many contributors to the database, the citation will depend on the data you are using. use the following format in accordance with usgs publishing standards (memo no. 2014.03)


Reference information about a fault in New Mexico seen online on January 9, 2019 would be as follows:

U.S. Geological Survey and New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources, Quaternary Fault and Fold Database for the United States, Accessed August 1, 2019, at: https://www.usgs.gov/ natural-hazards/earthquake-hazards/faults.

list of collaborators:

  • alaska – alaska department of natural resources
  • arizona – arizona geological survey
  • california – california geological survey
  • colorado – survey colorado geological survey
  • idaho – idaho geological survey
  • illinois – illinois state geological survey
  • louisiana – louisiana geological survey
  • montana – bureau of mines and geology
  • nevada – nevada bureau of mines and geology
  • new mexico – new mexico bureau of mines and mineral resources
  • texas – texas bureau of economic geology
  • utah – utah geological survey


This website contains information on faults and associated folds in the United States that are believed to be sources of m>6 earthquakes during the Quaternary (last 1.6 million years). maps of these geological structures are linked to a database containing detailed descriptions and references. The database is intended to be the USGS archive for historical and ancient earthquake sources used in current and future probabilistic seismic hazard analyses.

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Our website presents, for the first time, a single source that summarizes important information on paleoseismic parameters (ancient earthquakes). this data is compiled from thousands of journal articles, maps, theses and other documents, as mentioned in this document. the database is designed to serve a variety of needs, both in terms of the user community and data delivery methods.


Since the early 1970s, primarily in response to national concerns about the location of nuclear reactors, scientists needed to locate active and Quaternary faults and document their characteristics. this extensive research initiative resulted in new maps and studies of Quaternary faults. State (Jennings, 1975; Witkind, 1975; 1975; 1975; 1976; Menges and Pearthree, 1983 #2073), Regional (Nakata et al., 1982), and National Howard et al., 1978) maps were compiled to show the location and time relative to major faults. these map compilations, however, did not provide much supporting data. Later statewide builds, such as those by Johns et al. (1982), Stickney and Bartholemew (1987), and Hecker (1993) provided some supporting database and were the first true bug builds. Quaternary fault and fold data for the United States have been based largely on past contributions and new efforts from US and State Geological Surveys. geological survey.

The most recent effort began in 1990 in support of the International Lithosphere Program (ILP), which formed Working Group II-2. its main goal was to compile a world map of active faults (vladimir trifonov, president). In 1992, the USG agreed to help compile maps and fault descriptions for countries in the Western Hemisphere (North, Central, and South America, as well as Australia and New Zealand). This work continues to date, with many of the compilations for Central and South American countries having been published.

in 1993, usa. The Geological Survey began developing a Quaternary fold and fault database for the United States in earnest, backed largely by NEHRP but with significant support from many state surveys. This product is more robust than ILP products, primarily due to the large amount of data available in the US. uu. in the last 20-30 years and the importance of these data in regional and national seismic risk assessments (Petersen et al., 1996; Frankel et al., 1996).

the descriptions contain information on geographic, geological and paleoseismic parameters that are considered critical to perform geological evaluations of seismic hazards. in addition, we provide narrative commentary that clarifies, justifies, or exposes these parameters. many of the comments in the database justify the paleoseismic parameters that were chosen to characterize the faults and folds.

reference materials

For this compilation, we have limited it to syntheses of the published literature relevant to the United States. our definition of published literature includes typical sources (journals and maps) as well as m.s. theses and doctoral dissertations, government contract reports (including many nehrp-sponsored studies), abstracts, and open-file (preliminary) reports. We generally do not cite unpublished field maps, field notes, and other gray literature reports that are not generally available to the public. The data presented in the compilation is extensively referenced using the USGS standard reference style, with the exception of appending a unique number to each cited reference for convenience. this numeric identifier allows us to clearly cite multiple publications from the same year for authors.

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fault classes

This table includes the class definitions used in the compilation of quaternary faults, liquefaction and deformation features (crone and wheeler, 2000).

potential uses

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although seismicity maps and earthquake catalogs show the last 100 to 150 years of felt and instrumental earthquakes, many faults in the united states have return times of thousands to tens of thousands of years for shallow fault events . clearly, the short seismic record will not reflect all the active faults that exist. Therefore, this collection of data on faults and folds that record ancient earthquakes will help augment the rather short felt and instrumental seismic record that is typical of the United States and other recently developed countries.

The database is primarily a text-based collection of descriptive data that will serve a wide and varied audience. the search capabilities described below will allow the user to sort the data on a variety of fields (geographic, structural, movement time, slip rate, etc.). The basic strategy for classifying the data has been to create a variety of bins (categories) to characterize these potential seismic sources in terms of their activity rates. you can sort data by time of most recent movement (4 categories included) or slip rate (4 exclusive categories). For example, if you want to see the youngest and most active prehistoric faults, you would look for faults that have moved in the last 15,000 years at rates of more than 5 mm/yr.

search strategies

The database has two search forms. the quick search form is very simple with only four search options available. two options allow searches by name and number of a particular fault or fold. the other two options allow geographic searches by state and county.

The advanced search form can be used to further narrow the search results. the advanced search form allows queries on the four previous parameters and on geographic options, paleoseismic characteristics and structural characteristics. additional geographic search options are ams sheet and physiographic province. searchable paleoseismic features include time of most recent prehistoric deformation, year of historical deformation, and slip rate category. structural features that can be searched for include the length of the fault or fault section, the average strike of the fault or fault section, the direction of movement, and the direction of fault dip.

fill in as many fields as you like. the narrower the search; the faster the results will be available. If you expect your search to return a large number of results (40+), you can reduce the amount of time to get those results by limiting the number of results on each page at the bottom of the search form.

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There are three basic types of search fields: those with (1) dropdowns, (2) text, and (3) numeric. fields that have dropdowns provide all available options. text fields such as name, county, and ams sheet are not case sensitive and will match partial words. Numeric fields such as number, year of historical deformation, length, and average strike should only contain numeric expressions. the numeric field will not find specific sections (a, b, c, etc.); instead, look only for the fault number. the year of historical deformation requires a four-digit year in each field; use values ​​that span the historical record (such as 1600 and 2005) to find all entries in this field. length and average hit lookups will return all records with inclusive values ​​and return all sections of a fault if one of those sections has the desired value.

Many modern web browsers have an “auto-complete” feature that will fill data fields based on the first few characters or digits of your browser profile. you must disable this feature before performing searches that require entering characters or digits.


The database structure was created by Kathy Haller (USGS) and Larry Mayer (formerly of the University of Miami in Oxford, Ohio) created an early version of the web interface and search engines. GIS data designed by Richard Dart and maintained by Jerry Mayer (USGS). fault and fold traces were digitized primarily by richard dart, with the help of dean hancock*. Static maps were made by Susan Rhea (USGS), Richard Dart, and Damon Sather*. the graphical web browser and arcims module (still under development) were created by susan rhea, damon sather*, karen morgan* and john cox*. Much of the reference database and data entry into the text database was done with the competent assistance of Philly Morrow, Meredith Frey, and Kelli Clark (*all former USGS interns or contractors).


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  • Hecker, S., 1993, Utah Quaternary Tectonics with an Emphasis on Earthquake Hazard Characterization: Utah Geological Survey Bulletin 127, 157 p., 6 pls., scale 1:500,000.
  • jennings, c.w., 1975, california fault map with locations of volcanoes, hot springs, and hot springs: california division of mines and geology california geological data map 1, scale 1:750,000.
  • johns, w.m. Straw, W.T., Brigantine, R.N., Dresser, H.W., Hendrix, T.E., McClernan, H.G., Palmquist, J.C., and Schmidt, C.J., 1982, Neotectonic Features of Southern Montana East of 112°30′ West Longitude: Office of montana mines and geology open-file report 91, 79 p., 2 sheets.
  • menges, cm, and pearthree, p.a., 1983, neotectonic deformation map (late pliocene-quaternary) in arizona: arizona bureau of geology mineral technology open file report 83-22, 48 p., scale 1:500,000.
  • stickney, m.c., and bartholomew, m.j., 1987, preliminary map of late quaternary faults in western montana: montana bureau of mines and geology open file report 186, 1 pl., scale 1:500,000.

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