Paleoseismology of the 1966 Varto Earthquake (Ms 6.8) and Structure of the Varto Fault Zone, Eastern Turkey

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Veysel Isik1, Ayse Caglayan1,2, Reza Saber1 and Nazim Yesilyurt3, (1)Ankara University, Department of Geological Engineering, Tectonics Research Group, Ankara, Turkey, (2)Ministry of Enviroment and Urbanization, General Directorate of Spatial Planing, Department of Geological Survey, Ankara, Turkey, (3)Province of Bank, Department of Spatial Planning, Ankara, Turkey
Turkey is a region of active faulting and contains several strike-slip fault zones, which have generated both historical and recent large earthquakes. Two active fault zones in Turkey, the North Anatolian Fault Zone (NAFZ) and the East Anatolian Fault Zone (EAFZ), divide the area into the Anatolian micro-plate accommodating WSW-directed movement. The southeastern continuation of the NAFZ is often referred to the Varto Fault Zone (VFZ). The VFZ cuts mainly Pliocene volcano-sedimentary units and/or Quaternary deposits and is characterized by multiple fault strands and multiple, closely spaced, active seismogenic zones. Fault motions in the zone are primarily right-lateral, with a subordinate component of NNW-SSE shortening.

Study area is Varto region in which indications of active faulting are very well preserved. We recognized three coseismic ruptures from five trench exposures. It is referred to these as events 1 (youngest) through 3 (oldest). The best evidence of event 3 comes from fault traces and its upward terminations. The major components of this fault are fault core and damage zone. The fault is not just one plane of discontinuity and bifurcates and creates additional slip surfaces, which propagate out of the plane of the original fault. Event 2 and event 1, referring to 1946 and 1966 earthquakes, are characterized primarily by discrete, regularly spaced normal faults with and 55-80 cm and 105-270 cm throws, respectively and geometry of growth strata.

The VFZ in the study area include typical structures of strike-slip fault zone. It forms a number of parallel and slightly sub-parallel strands striking N50°-72°W including contractional and extensional brittle structures. Several meters to tens of meters wavelength active folds with ENE-WSW and WNW-ESE trending fold axis. These folds deform the Plio-Quaternary units and show classic asymmetry associated with both a south- and north-vergent fault propagation fold. Meso-scale normal faults are also well developed in the region, where they strike NNE-SSW to NNW-SSE and usually dipping steply towards NE and SW. Almost all rocks display joints and shear fractures dipping moderately and steply. Our field and paleoseismological studies suggest that contractional structures are overprinted by extensional structures.