The 2013 Mw 6.2 Khaki-Shonbe (Iran) Earthquake: Seismic Shortening of the Zagros Sedimentary Cover

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
John R Elliott, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, Eric Bergman, Center for Imaging the Earth's Interior, University of Colorado at Boulder, Physics, Colorado, United States, Alex Copley, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Abdolreza Ghods, Institute for Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences, Earth Sciences, Zanjan, Iran, Edwin Nissen, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO, United States, Behnam Oveisi, Geological Survey of Iran, Seismotectonics Department, Tehran, Iran and Richard J Walters, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2, United Kingdom
The 2013 Mw 6.2 Khaki-Shonbe earthquake occurred in the Simply Folded Belt of the Zagros Mountains, Iran. This is the largest earthquake in the Zagros since the November 1990 Mw 6.4 Furg (Hormozgan) thrust faulting event, and therefore the largest in the period for which dense InSAR ground displacements are available. It is also the biggest seismic event to have occurred in the Simply Folded Belt since the March 1977 Mw 6.7 Khurgu earthquake. This earthquake therefore potentially provides valuable insights into a range of controversies: (1) the preponderance of earthquake faulting in the crystalline basement versus the sedimentary cover and the potential importance of lithology in controlling and limiting seismic rupture; (2) the nature of surface folding and whether or not there is a one-to-one relationship between buried reverse faults and surface anticlines; and (3) the presence or absence of large pulses of aseismic slip triggered by mainshock rupture.

We combine seismological solutions and aftershock relocations with satellite interferometric ground displacements and observations from the field to determine the geometry of faulting and its relationship with the structure, stratigraphy and tectonics of the Central Zagros. The earthquake rupture involved reverse slip on two along-strike southwest dipping fault segments, the rupture initiating at the northern and bottom end of the larger north-west segment. These faults verge away from the foreland and towards the high range interior, contrary to the fault geometries depicted in many structural cross-sections of the Zagros. The slip measured on the reverse segments occurred over two mutually exclusive depth ranges, 10–5 km and 4–2 km, resulting in long (16 km), narrow (7 km) rupture segments. Conversely, aftershocks are found to cluster in the depth range 8–16 km, beneath the main rupture segment. This indicates only significant reverse slip and coseismic shortening in the sedimentary cover, with the slip distribution likely to be lithologically controlled in depth by the Hormuz salt at the base of the sedimentary cover, and the Kazhdumi Formation mudrocks at upper-levels (5 km), and aftershocks constrained largely beneath the main coseismic rupture planes.