Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

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

Abstract

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 27.9 mm yr−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 17.8 mm yr−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.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Tectonic setting of Anatolia.
Figure 2: Model geometry and finite-element discretization.
Figure 3: Velocities and fault slip rates at the surface.
Figure 4: North–south profiles of east–west velocity.

References

  1. 1

    Scholz, C. H. The Mechanics of Earthquakes and Faulting 2nd edn (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002).

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Le Pichon, X. L., Chamot-Rooke, A., Rangin, C. & Şengör, A. M. C. The North Anatolian fault in the Sea of Marmara. J. Geophys. Res. 108, 2179 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Flerit, F., Armijo, R., King, G. & Meyer, B. The mechanical interaction between the propagating North Anatolian Fault and the back-arc extension in the Aegean. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 224, 347–362 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Meade, B. J. et al. Estimates of seismic potential in the Marmara Sea region from block models of secular deformation constrained by GPS measurements. Bull. Seism. Soc. Am. 92, 208–215 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Reilinger, R. et al. GPS constraints on continental deformation in the Africa–Arabia–Eurasia continental collision zone and implications for the dynamics of plate interaction. J. Geophys. Res. 111, B05411 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Laigle, M. et al. A first deep seismic survey in the Sea of Marmara: Deep basins and whole crust architecture and evolution. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 270, 168–179 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Armijo, R., Meyer, B., Navarro, S., King, G. & Barka, A. Asymmetric slip partitioning in the Sea of Marmara pull-apart: A clue to propagation processes of the North Anatolian Fault? Terra Nova 13, 80–86 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Armijo, R., Meyer, B., Hubert, A. & Barka, A. Westward propagation of the North Anatolian fault into the northern Aegean: Timing and kinematics. Geology 27, 267–270 (1999).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Rockwell, T. K. et al. International Workshop in Comparative Studies of the North Anatolian Fault and the San Andreas Fault 11–12 (2006).

  10. 10

    Rockwell, T. et al. in Paleoseismology: Historical and Prehistorical Records of Earthquake Ground Effects for Seismic Hazard Assessment. Vol. 316 (eds Reicherter, K., Michetti, A. M. & Silva, P. G.) 31–54 (Spec. Publs. Geol. Soc., 2009).

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Youngs, R. R. & Coppersmith, K. J. Implications of fault slip rates and earthquake recurrence models to probabilistic seismic hazard estimates. Bull. Seism. Soc. Am. 75, 939–964 (2003).

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Erdik, M., Demircioglu, M., Sesetyan, K., Durukal, E. & Siyahi, B. Earthquake hazard in Marmara Region, Turkey. Soil Dyn. Earthq. Eng. 24, 605–631 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Heidbach, O. & Drewes, H. in New Insights in Structural Interpretation and Modelling (ed. Nieuwland, D.) 259–272 (Spec. Publs. Geol. Soc., 2003).

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Bécel, A. et al. Moho, crustal architecture and deep deformation under the North Marmara Trough, from the Seismarmara Leg1 offshore-onshore reflection-refraction survey. Tectonophysics 467, 1–21 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Carton, H. et al. Seismic imaging of the three-dimensional architecture of the Çınarcık Basin along the North Anatolian Fault. J. Geophys. Res. 112, B06101 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Parke, J. R. et al. Interaction between faulting and sedimentation in the Sea of Marmara, western Turkey. J. Geophys. Res. 107, B11 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Seeber, L. et al. Uplift and subsidence from oblique slip: The Ganos-Marmara bend of the North Anatolian Transform, Western Turkey. Tectonophysics 391, 239–258 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Seeber, L. et al. Rapid subsidence and sedimentation from oblique slip near a bend on the North Anatolian transform fault in the Marmara Sea, Turkey. Geology 34, 933–936 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Yaltırak, C. Late Pleistocene uplift history along the southwestern Marmara Sea determined from raised coastal deposits and global sea-level variations. Mar. Geol. 190, 283–305 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Yaltırak, C. & Alpar, B. Evolution of the middle strand of North Anatolian Fault and shallow seismic investigation of the southeastern Marmara Sea (Gemlik Bay). Mar. Geol. 190, 307–327 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    McClusky, S. et al. Global positioning system constraints on plate kinematics and dynamics in the eastern Mediterranean and Caucasus. J. Geophys. Res. 105, 5695–5719 (2000).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Ambraseys, N. The seismic activity of the Marmara sea region over the last 2000 years. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 92, 1–18 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank A. Bécel, M. Laigle and A. Hirn for providing data for the basement topography and Moho, and A. Hirn, K. Fuchs, F. Wenzel and M. Laigle for suggestions. This work was supported by the CEDIM Project at the University of Karlsruhe and GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, by the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and by the Task Force VII ‘Temporal and Spatial Changes of Stress and Strain’ of the International Lithosphere Program.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

The modelling and analysis was carried out by T.H., in consultation with O.H. Both authors wrote the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Tobias Hergert or Oliver Heidbach.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Information (PDF 882 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hergert, T., Heidbach, O. Slip-rate variability and distributed deformation in the Marmara Sea fault system. Nature Geosci 3, 132–135 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo739

Download citation

Further reading

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing