Letter abstract


Nature Geoscience 3, 132 - 135 (2010)
Published online: 17 January 2010 | doi:10.1038/ngeo739

Subject Category: Structural geology, tectonics and geodynamics

Slip-rate variability and distributed deformation in the Marmara Sea fault system

Tobias Hergert1 & Oliver Heidbach1,2

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The slip rate along a fault controls the accumulation of strain that is eventually released during an earthquake1. Along a 150-km-long stretch of the North Anatolian fault near Istanbul, Turkey, strain has been building up2 since the last large earthquake in 1766. Estimates of the geodetic slip rates along the main Marmara fault vary widely, ranging between 17 and 27.9mmyr−1 (refs 2, 3, 4, 5). This slip rate is difficult to quantify because of the lack of satellite observations offshore and the complexity of the submarine fault system that includes the main Marmara fault2, 6, 7. Here we estimate the right-lateral slip rate on the main Marmara fault using a three-dimensional geomechanical model that incorporates these structural complexities. From our simulations we infer slip rates between 12.8 and 17.8mmyr−1; our estimates are smaller and more variable than previous results, primarily because of slip partitioning and internal deformation. Our model results reconcile geodetic observations and geological fault slip rates8, 9, 10, which had been considered conflicting previously. We suggest that the inferred variability in slip rate on the main Marmara fault favours segmented release of seismic moment during consecutive events over the failure of the whole seismic gap in one large earthquake.

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  1. Geophysical Institute, Universität Karlsruhe (TH), Hertzstr. 16, 76187 Karlsruhe, Germany
  2. Present address: GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Telegrafenberg, 14773 Potsdam, Germany

Correspondence to: Tobias Hergert1 e-mail: tobias.hergert@gpi.uni-karlsruhe.de

Correspondence to: Oliver Heidbach1,2 e-mail: heidbach@gfz-potsdam.de



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