Seismotectonics of the Eastern Himalayan System and Indo-Burman Convergence Zone Using Seismic Waveform Inversion

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Ajay Kumar1, Supriyo Mitra1 and G. Suresh2, (1)Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata, Department of Earth Sciences, Kolkata, India, (2)Indian Meteorological Department, Seismology Division, New Delhi, India
The Eastern Himalayan System (east of 88°E) is distinct from the rest of the India-Eurasia continental collision, due to a wider zone of distributed deformation, oblique convergence across two orthogonal plate boundaries and near absence of foreland basin sedimentary strata. To understand the seismotectonics of this region we study the spatial distribution and source mechanism of earthquakes originating within Eastern Himalaya, northeast India and Indo-Burman Convergence Zone (IBCZ). We compute focal mechanism of 32 moderate-to-large earthquakes (mb >=5.4) by modeling teleseismic P- and SH-waveforms, from GDSN stations, using least-squares inversion algorithm; and 7 small-to-moderate earthquakes (3.5<= mb <5.4) by modeling local P- and S-waveforms, from the NorthEast India Telemetered Network, using non-linear grid search algorithm. We also include source mechanisms from previous studies, either computed by waveform inversion or by first motion polarity from analog data. Depth distribution of modeled earthquakes reveal that the seismogenic layer beneath northeast India is ~45km thick. From source mechanisms we observe that moderate earthquakes in northeast India are spatially clustered in five zones with distinct mechanisms: (a) thrust earthquakes within the Eastern Himalayan wedge, on north dipping low angle faults; (b) thrust earthquakes along the northern edge of Shillong Plateau, on high angle south dipping fault; (c) dextral strike-slip earthquakes along Kopili fault zone, between Shillong Plateau and Mikir Hills, extending southeast beneath Naga Fold belts; (d) dextral strike-slip earthquakes within Bengal Basin, immediately south of Shillong Plateau; and (e) deep focus (>50 km) thrust earthquakes within IBCZ. Combining with GPS geodetic observations, it is evident that the N20E convergence between India and Tibet is accommodated as elastic strain both within eastern Himalaya and regions surrounding the Shillong Plateau. We hypothesize that the strike-slip earthquakes south of the Plateau occur on re-activated continental rifts paralleling the Eocene hinge zone. Distribution of earthquake hypocenters across the IBCZ reveal active subduction of the Indian plate beneath Burma micro-plate.