Paleoseismology of the Xorxol Segment of the Central Altyn Tagh Fault, Xinjiang, China

Zack Washburn, Ramon Arrowsmith, Guillaume Dupont-Nivet, Xiao Feng Wang, Yu Qiao Zhang, Zhengle Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although the Altyn Tagh Fault (ATF) is thought to play a key role in accommodating India-Eurasian convergence, little is known about its earthquake history. Studies of this strike-slip fault are important for interpretation of the role of faulting versus distributed deformation in the accommodation of the India- Eurasia collision. In addition, the > 1200 km long fault represents one of the most important and exemplary intracontinental strike-slip faults in the world. We mapped fault trace geometry and interpreted paleoseismic trench exposures to characterize the seismogenic behavior of the ATF. We identified 2 geometric segment boundaries in a 270 km long reach of the central ATF. These boundaries define the westernmost Wuzhunxiao, the Central Pingding, and the easternmost Xorxol (also written as Suekuli or Suo'erkuli) segments. In this paper, we present the results from the Camel paleoseismic site along the Xorxol Segment at 91.759°E, 38.919°N. There evidence for the last two earthquakes is clear and 14C dates from layers exposed in the excavation bracket their ages. The most recent earthquake occurred between 1456 and 1775 cal A.D. and the penultimate event was between 60 and 980 cal A.D. Combining the Camel interpretations with our published results for the central ATF, we conclude that multiple earthquakes with shorter rupture lengths (∼ 50 km) rather than complete rupture of the XorxoI Segment better explain the paleoseismic data. We found 2-3 earthquakes in the last 2-3 kyr. When coupled with typical amounts of slip per event (5-10 m), the recurrence times are tentatively consistent with 1-2 cm/yr slip rates. This result favors models that consider the broader distribution of collisional deformation, rather than those with northward motion of India into Asia absorbed along a few faults bounding rigid blocks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1015-1034
Number of pages20
JournalAnnals of Geophysics
Volume46
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003

Keywords

  • Altyn Tagh Fault
  • India-Eurasia collision
  • Paleoseismology
  • Strike-slip faults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics

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