2D Ball-and-Socket Tectonic Rotation in a Heterogeneous Strain Field: The 2013 Mw7.7 Balochistan, Pakistan Earthquake

Monday, 15 December 2014: 11:20 AM
William D Barnhart1, Gavin P Hayes2, Richard W Briggs3, Ryan D Gold2 and Roger G Bilham4, (1)USGS National Earthquake Information Center Golden, Golden, CO, United States, (2)U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO, United States, (3)US Geological Survey, Denver, CO, United States, (4)University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States
The September 2013 Mw7.7 Balochistan strike-slip earthquake ruptured a ~200 km long segment of the curved Hoshab fault within the Makran accretionary prism – the active zone of convergence between the northward subducting Arabia plate and overriding Eurasia. The Hoshab fault ruptured bilaterally with ~10 m of mean sinistral and ~1.7 m of dip slip along the length of the rupture, quantified jointly from geodetic and seismological observations. This rupture is unusual because the fault dips ~60o towards the focus of a small circle centered in northwest Pakistan, and, despite a 30o increase in obliquity along the curving strike of the fault with respect to Arabia:Eurasia convergence, the ratio of strike and dip slip remain relatively uniform. Static friction prior to rupture was unusually weak ( <0.05) as inferred from topographic and slab profiles, and friction may have approached zero during dynamic rupture, thus permitting in part this unusual event. In this presentation, we argue that the northward dipping Hosab fault defines the northern rim of a structural unit in southeast Makran. This unit rotates – akin to a 2-D ball-and-socket joint – counter clockwise in response to India’s penetration into the Eurasia plate. According to this interpretation, the mechanically weak Makran accretionary prism is subjected to a highly heterogeneous strain and deforms in response to convergence from both the Arabia and India plates. Rotation of the southeast Makran block accounts for complexity in the Chaman fault system and, in principle, reduces the seismic potential near Karachi by accommodating some slip along the southern Ornach-Nal fault. At the same time, geological indicators and along-strike fault slip profiles indicate that the Hoshab fault may also slip as a reverse fault in response to Arabia:Eurasia convergence – indicating that a single fault may accommodate multiple components of strain partitioning in a heterogeneous strain field over several seismic cycles.