The Pamir Frontal Thrust Fault: Holocene Full-Segment Ruptures and Implications for Complex Segment Interactions in a Continental Collision Zone

M. Patyniak, A. Landgraf, A. Dzhumabaeva, S. Baikulov, A. M. Williams, J. R. Weiss, G. E. Hilley, F. Preusser, K. E. Abdrakhmatov, R. J. Arrowsmith, M. R. Strecker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Pamir Frontal Thrust (PFT) of the Trans-Alai Range in Central Asia is the principal active fault of the intracontinental convergence zone between the Pamir and Tien Shan. Its northward propagation is reflected by frequent seismic activity and ongoing crustal shortening. Recent and historic earthquakes exhibit complex rupture patterns within and across seismotectonic segments bounding the Trans Alai, challenging our understanding of fault interaction and seismogenic potential. We provide paleoseismic data from five trenches along the central PFT segment (cPFT) and interpret five and possibly six paleoearthquakes that have ruptured since ∼7 ka and 16 ka, respectively. Our results indicate that at least three major earthquakes ruptured the full-segment length and possibly crossed segment boundaries with a recurrence interval of ∼1.9 kyr and potential magnitudes of up to Mw 7.4. We did not find evidence for great (i.e., Mw ≥8) earthquakes. However, discrepancies between slip and rupture extent during apparent partial segment ruptures in the western half of the cPFT, combined with significantly higher scarp offsets, indicate a more mature fault section with potential for future fault linkage. We estimate an average rate of horizontal motion for the cPFT of 4.1 ± 1.5 mm/yr during the past ∼5 kyr, which does not fully match the GNSS-derived present-day shortening rate of ∼10 mm/yr. This suggests a complex distribution of strain accumulation and potential slip partitioning between the cPFT and additional faults and folds within the Pamir that may be associated with a partially locked regional décollement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021JB022405
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Volume126
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Central Asia
  • Paleoseismology
  • Pamir Frontal Thrust
  • Range Front
  • Segmentation
  • Slip Rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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