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  1. Abstract Creeping faults are difficult to assess for seismic hazard because they may participate in rupture even though they likely cannot nucleate large earthquakes. The creeping central section of the San Andreas fault in California (USA) has not participated in a historical large earthquake; however, earthquake ruptures nucleating in the locked northern and southern sections may propagate through the creeping section. We used biomarker thermal maturity and K/Ar dating on samples from the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth to look for evidence of earthquakes. Biomarkers show evidence of many earthquakes with displacements >1.5 m in and near a 3.5-m-wide patch of the fault. We show that K/Ar ages decrease with thermal maturity, and partial resetting occurs during coseismic heating. Therefore, measured ages provide a maximum constraint on earthquake age, and the youngest earthquakes here are younger than 3 Ma. Our results demonstrate that creeping faults may host large earthquakes over longer time scales.
  2. Abstract

    Precisely targeted measurements of trace elements using laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS) reveal inter-chamber heterogeneities in specimens of the planktic foraminiferTrilobatus (Globigerinoides) sacculifer. We find that Mg/Ca ratios in the final growth chamber are generally lower compared to previous growth chambers, but final chamber Mg/Ca is elevated in one of thirteen sample intervals. Differences in distributions of Mg/Ca values from separate growth chambers are observed, occurring most often at lower Mg/Ca values, suggesting that single-chamber measurements may not be reflective of the specimen’s integrated Mg/Ca. We compared LA-ICPMS Mg/Ca values to paired, same-individual Mg/Ca measured via inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) to assess their correspondence. Paired LA-ICPMS and ICP-OES Mg/Ca show a maximum correlation coefficient of R = 0.92 (p < 0.05) achieved by applying a weighted average of the last and penultimate growth chambers. Population distributions of paired Mg/Ca values are identical under this weighting. These findings demonstrate that multi-chamber LA-ICPMS measurements can approximate entire specimen Mg/Ca, and is thus representative of the integrated conditions experienced during the specimen’s lifespan. This correspondence between LA-ICPMS and ICP-OES data links these methods and demonstrates that both generate Mg/Ca values suitable for individual foraminifera palaeoceanographic reconstructions.

  3. Abstract

    The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is highly dependent on coupled atmosphere-ocean interactions and feedbacks, suggesting a tight relationship between ENSO strength and background climate conditions. However, the extent to which background climate state determines ENSO behavior remains in question. Here we present reconstructions of total variability and El Niño amplitude from individual foraminifera distributions at discrete time intervals over the past ~285,000 years across varying atmospheric CO2levels, global ice volume and sea level, and orbital insolation forcing. Our results show a strong correlation between eastern tropical Pacific Ocean mixed-layer thickness and both El Niño amplitude and central Pacific variability. This ENSO-thermocline relationship implicates upwelling feedbacks as the major factor controlling ENSO strength on millennial time scales. The primacy of the upwelling feedback in shaping ENSO behavior across many different background states suggests accurate quantification and modeling of this feedback is essential for predicting ENSO’s behavior under future climate conditions.

  4. Abstract

    Extreme slip at shallow depths on subduction zone faults is a primary contributor to tsunami generation by earthquakes. Improving earthquake and tsunami risk assessment requires understanding the material and structural conditions that favor earthquake propagation to the trench. We use new biomarker thermal maturity indicators to identify seismic faults in drill core recovered from the Japan Trench subduction zone, which hosted 50 m of shallow slip during theMw9.1 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake. Our results show that multiple faults have hosted earthquakes with displacement ≥ 10 m, and each could have hosted many great earthquakes, illustrating an extensive history of great earthquake seismicity that caused large shallow slip. We find that lithologic contrasts in frictional properties do not necessarily determine the likelihood of large shallow slip or seismic hazard.