qfaults web comp As of January 12, 2017, the USGS maintains a limited number of metadata fields that characterize the Quaternary faults and folds of the United States. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to the interactive fault map.

Hebgen fault (Class A) No. 656

Last Review Date: 2010-11-17

Compiled in cooperation with the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology

citation for this record: Haller, K.M., compiler, 2010, Fault number 656, Hebgen fault, in Quaternary fault and fold database of the United States: U.S. Geological Survey website, https://earthquakes.usgs.gov/hazards/qfaults, accessed 04/20/2024 01:31 AM.

Synopsis Even though the largest historic earthquake in Montana, 1959 Hebgen Lake earthquake (Mw7.3), caused surface rupture of this fault, early published data in reports dating from the early 1960s and paleoseismic studies conducted in 2000 are the only investigations addressing the fault.

Name comments Pardee (1950 #46) noted morphology suggesting a fault-controlled range front along the northeast side of Hebgen Lake but no name was assigned. The earliest use of a name for the fault was probably in the numerous publications that resulted from studies of the 1959 Hebgen Lake earthquake (Myers and Hamilton, 1961 #636; Witkind and others, 1962 #633; Witkind, 1964 #247; Myers and Hamilton, 1964 #250; Witkind and others, 1964 #629; Witkind, 1969 #468). An earlier publication refers to the fault as Hebgen Lake fault (U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, 1959 #630). The Hebgen fault, as defined by 1959 surface rupture, extends from Beaver Creek southeastward to 2.3 km west of Canyon Creek.

Fault ID: Refers to number 6 (Hebgen fault) of Witkind (1975 #317), number 42 (Hebgen fault) of Johns and others (1982 #259), number 13 (Hebgen fault) of Stickney and Bartholomew (1987 #85), and Hebgen fault of Stickney and Bartholomew (1987 #242; written commun. 1992 #556).
County(s) and State(s) GALLATIN COUNTY, MONTANA
Physiographic province(s) NORTHERN ROCKY MOUNTAINS
Reliability of location Good
Compiled at 1:24,000 scale.

Comments: Location is based on 1:62,500-scale map (Witkind, 1964 #247; Myers and Hamilton, 1964 #250), further constrained by satellite imagery and topography at scale of 1:100,000. Reference satellite imagery is ESRI_Imagery_World_2D with a minimum viewing distance of 1 km.

Geologic setting High-angle, down-to-the-southwest, range-front normal fault that bounds the northeastern side of main body of Hebgen Lake. Fault generally parallels the strike of the bedrock and has a close spatial relation to the surface trace of the Laramide-age Johnson thrust fault (Witkind, 1964 #247; Myers and Hamilton, 1964 #250). Witkind and others (1964 #629) indicate that Cambrian strata are on both sides of the fault for much of its length suggesting that the total stratigraphic throw is small. Witkind (1964 #247) indicates net cumulative throw is about 305 m.

Length (km) 13 km.
Average strike N53°W
Sense of movement Normal

Comments: Based on slip indicators with rakes of 90? resulting from the Hebgen Lake earthquake (Witkind and others, 1962 #633).

Dip 60°-80° SW

Comments: Range in dip is from Witkind (1975 #317) and Johns and others (1982 #259). Witkind and others (1964 #629) suggests a dip of 75? SW. Geodetic data suggests fault dips 45? SW (Barrientos and others, 1987 #269).

Paleoseismology studies Paleoseismic investigations on the Hebgen Fault were conducted in 2000 and again in 2002 at Cabin Creek and Section 31.

At site 656-1 at Cabin Creek, two terrace risers at the northwest end of the 1959 surface rupture demonstrate recurrent movement on the fault. The lower terrace is offset 3.1 m (only 1959 offset), whereas the upper terrace is offset 5.3 m. The upper terrace has nearly two times the offset of the lower terrace. A trench, excavated across the fault on the upper terrace, exposed the 1959 colluvial wedge and a penultimate wedge from a presumably earlier Holocene earthquake (Pierce and others, 2000 #7022; 2000 #7023).

Site 656-2 at Section 31 site is located near the center of the Hebgen fault. Findings from original trenching (Hecker others, 2000 #7021) suggest the net tectonic vertical displacement of the alluvial-fan surface is 5-6 m; net displacement in the past two events is 2-3 m. A later study revealed a possible third event (Hecker and others, 2002 #7026) since the alluvial fan stabilized about 11-15 ka.

Geomorphic expression Historical fault scarps are 0.3- to 6-m high (generally 3-m high;Witkind, 1964 #247) and locally superimposed on 3- to 30-m-high prehistoric scarps, monoclinal folds, and linear bedrock outcrops (Witkind, 1964 #247; Myers and Hamilton, 1964 #250; Witkind and others, 1964 #629). Wallace (1980 #657) details significant degradation of scarp at two locations.

Age of faulted surficial deposits Upper Quaternary (Pinedale and Bull Lake) alluvium (~30%); Precambrian, Cambrian, Devonian, and Mississippian bedrock (~70%) based on mapping shown on plate 5 of USGS Professional Paper 435 (1964).
Historic earthquake Hebgen Lake earthquake 1959
Most recent prehistoric deformation latest Quaternary (<15 ka)

Comments: Some early papers that discuss this fault suggest there is no evidence of previous faulting (Witkind, 1975 #317) or provide inconclusive evidence of prior faulting (Myers and Hamilton, 1964 #250); however, more recent morphologic studies by Nash (1984 #343) estimate the age of prehistoric faulting on nearby intrabasin scarps [659] to be 2.8 ?1.0 k.y., which was substantiated by later paleoseimic investigations. Doser (1985 #22) reports a date of 3,250 ?850 yr BP attributed to Nash. Alexander and others (1994 #1252) suggest that the migration of the South Fork of the Madison River meander belt to the east is due to recurrent Holocene faulting. No published data are available for scarps on the Hebgen fault.

Recurrence interval 1.0-13.5 k.y. (<15 ka)

Comments: Radiocarbon dates and cosmogenic radionuclide dating (26Al, 10Be) of displaced fan and terrace surfaces indicate the intervals between the past three large events are variable: 1-3 ka between 1959 and the penultimate event and 7-13.5 ka between the penultimate and prior surface rupture (van der Woerd and others, 2000 #7025). An earlier study by Wheeler and Krystinik (1992 #608) suggests that these recurrence intervals of 5.4-29.8 k.y. since 0.6-2.0 Ma, which considers the maximum age of the fault zone (including Red Canyon fault) to be 0.6-2.0 m.y., the net cumulative throw of 305 m from Witkind's data (1964 #247), and slip events with displacement similar to 1959 Hebgen Lake earthquake. Ostenaa and Wood (1990 #318) indicate the recurrence interval is less than 10 k.y. for an unspecified time interval.
Slip-rate category Between 0.2 and 1.0 mm/yr

Comments: The only known slip rate published for this fault zone is by Doser (1985 #641) whose estimate is 0.8-2.5 mm/yr for an unspecified time interval, but the late Quaternary expression of the fault is not suggestive of a slip rate of this magnitude. A lower long-term (<0.6-2.0 Ma) slip rate is suggested for the entire fault zone, which includes the Red Canyon fault, based on the recurrence-interval data of Wheeler and Krystinik (1992 #608). Data from the various trenching and dating studies suggest that slip rates determined for each known event are variable but fall within the assigned slip-rate category.
Date and Compiler(s) 2010
Kathleen M. Haller, U.S. Geological Survey
References #1252 Alexander, J., Bridge, J.S., Leeder, M.R., Collier, R.E.L., and Gawthorpe, R.L., 1994, Holocene meander-belt evolution in an active extensional basin, southwestern Montana: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. B64, p. 542-559.

#269 Barrientos, S.E., Stein, R.S., and Ward, S.N., 1987, Comparison of the 1959 Hebgen Lake, Montana and the 1983 Borah Peak, Idaho, earthquakes from geodetic observations: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, v. 77, p. 784-808.

#22 Doser, D.I., 1985, Source parameters and faulting processes of the 1959 Hebgen Lake, Montana, earthquake sequence: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 90, no. B6, p. 4537-4555.

#641 Doser, D.I., 1985, The 1983 Borah Peak, Idaho and 1959 Hebgen Lake, Montana earthquakes—Models for normal fault earthquakes in the Intermountain seismic belt, in Stein, R.S., and Bucknam, R.C., eds., Proceedings of workshop XXVIII on the Borah Peak, Idaho, earthquake: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 85-290, v. A, p. 368-384.

#7026 Hecker, S., Stenner, H.D., Costa, C.H., Schwartz, D.P., and Hamilton, J.C., 2002, New paleoseismic results from the central part of the 1959 Hebgen fault rupture, Montana: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 34, no. 4, p. 4.

#7021 Hecker, S., Stenner, H.D., Schwartz, D.P., and Hamilton, J.C., 2000, Paleoseismic results from the central part of the 1959 Hebgen fault rupture, Montana: Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, v. 81, no. 48, Suppl., p. 1170.

#259 Johns, W.M., Straw, W.T., Bergantino, 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: Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Open-File Report 91, 79 p., 2 sheets.

#636 Myers, W.B., and Hamilton, W., 1961, Deformation accompanying the Hebgen Lake, Montana, earthquake of August 17, 1959—Single-basin concept, in Geological Survey research 1961:U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 424, p. D-168-D-170.

#250 Myers, W.B., and Hamilton, W., 1964, Deformation accompanying the Hebgen Lake earthquake of August 17, 1959, in The Hebgen Lake, Montana, earthquake of August 17, 1959: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 435-I, p. 55-98.

#343 Nash, D.B., 1984, Morphologic dating of fluvial terrace scarps and fault scarps near West Yellowstone, Montana: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 95, p. 1413-1424.

#318 Ostenaa, D., and Wood, C., 1990, Seismotectonic study for Clark Canyon Dam, Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program, Montana: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Seismotectonic Report 90-4, 78 p., 1 pl.

#46 Pardee, J.T., 1950, Late Cenozoic block faulting in western Montana: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 61, p. 359-406.

#7022 Pierce, K.L., Lageson, D.R., Ruleman, C.A., and Hintz, R.G., 2000, Holocene paleoseismology of Hebgen Lake normal fault, MT—The Cabin Creek site of the Hebgen Lake paleoseismology working group: Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, v. 81, no. 48, Suppl., p. 1170.

#7023 Pierce, K.L., Lageson, D.R., Ruleman, C., and Hintz, R., 2000, Paleoseismology of Hebgen Lake normal fault at Cabin Creek, MT Preliminary report of the Hebgen Lake Paleoseismology Working Group: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 32, no. 7, p. 442.

#7024 Schwartz, D.P., 2000, Recurrence of large earthquakes along the 1959 surface rupture at Hebgen Lake, Montana: Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, v. 81, no. 48, Suppl., p. 1160-1161.

#242 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.

#85 Stickney, M.C., and Bartholomew, M.J., 1987, Seismicity and late Quaternary faulting of the northern Basin and Range province, Montana and Idaho: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, v. 77, p. 1602-1625.

#556 Stickney, M.C., and Bartholomew, M.J., 1992 written commun., Preliminary map of late Quaternary faults in western Montana (digital data): Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology (digital version of MBMG Open-File Report 186), 1 pl., scale 1:500,000.

#630 U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, 1959, Preliminary report—Hebgen Lake, Montana earthquakes, August 1959: U.S. Department of Commerce, 15 p.

#7025 van der Woerd, J., Benedetti, L., Caffee, M.W., and Finkel, R., 2000, Slip-rate and earthquake recurrence time on the Hebgen Lake fault (Montana)—Constraints from surface exposure dating of alluvial terraces and bedrock fault scarp: Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, v. 81, no. 48, Suppl., p. 1160.

#657 Wallace, R.E., 1980, Degradation of the Hebgen Lake fault scarps of 1959: Geology, v. 8, p. 225-229.

#608 Wheeler, R.L., and Krystinik, K.B., 1992, Persistent and nonpersistent segmentation of the Wasatch fault zone, Utah—Statistical analysis for evaluation of seismic hazard, in Gori, P.L., and Hays, W.W., eds., Assessment of regional earthquake hazards and risk along the Wasatch front, Utah: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1500, p. B1-B47.

#247 Witkind, I.J., 1964, Reactivated faults north of Hebgen Lake, in The Hebgen Lake, Montana, earthquake of August 17, 1959: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 435-G, p. 37-50.

#468 Witkind, I.J., 1969, Geology of the Tepee Creek quadrangle, Montana-Wyoming: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 609, 101 p., 2 pls.

#317 Witkind, I.J., 1975, Preliminary map showing known and suspected active faults in western Montana: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 75-285, 36 p. pamphlet, 1 sheet, scale 1:500,000.

#629 Witkind, I.J., Hadley, J.B., and Nelson, W.H., 1964, Pre-Tertiary stratigraphy and structure of the Hebgen Lake area, in The Hebgen Lake, Montana, earthquake of August 17, 1959: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 435-R, p. 199-207.

#633 Witkind, I.J., Myers, W.B., Hadley, J.B., Hamilton, W., and Fraser, G.D., 1962, Geologic features of the earthquake at Hebgen Lake, Montana, August 17, 1959: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, v. 52, p. 163-180.