The Northern Rupture of the 1762 Arakan Meghathrust Earthquake and other Potential Earthquake Sources in Bangladesh.
Abstract:Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It occupies a major part of the Bengal Basin, which contains the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta (GBD), the largest and one of the most active of world deltas, and is located along the Alpine-Himalayan seismic belt. As such it is vulnerable to many natural hazards, especially earthquakes. The country sits at the junction of three tectonic plates - Indian, Eurasian, and the Burma ‘sliver’ of the Sunda plate. These form two boundaries where plates converge– the India-Eurasia plate boundary to the north forming the Himalaya Arc and the India-Burma plate boundary to the east forming the Indo-Burma Arc. The India-Burma plate boundary is exceptionally wide because collision with the GBD feeds an exception amount of sediment into the subduction zone. Thus the Himalayan continent collision orogeny along with its syntaxes to the N and NE of Bangladesh and the Burma Arc subduction boundary surround Bangladesh on two sides with active faults of regional scale, raising the potential for high-magnitude earthquakes. In recent years Bangladesh has experienced minor to moderate earthquakes. Historical records show that major and great earthquakes have ravaged the country and the neighboring region several times over the last 450 years.
Field observations of Tertiary structures along the Chittagong-Teknaf coast reveal that the rupture of 1762 Arakan megathrust earthquake extended as far north as the Sitakund anticline to the north of the city of Chittagong. This earthquake brought changes to the landscape, uplifting the Teknaf peninsula and St. Martin’s Island by about 2-2.5 m, and activated two mud volcanos along the axis of the Sitakund anticline, where large tabular blocks of exotic crystalline limestone, were tectonically transported from a deep-seated formation along with the eruptive mud. Vast area of the coast including inland areas east of the lower Meghna River were inundated. More than 500 peoples died near Dhaka as the tsunami or a seiche destroyed mud bamboo houses and capsized boats. The St. Martin’s Island is believed to have been an unpopulated shoal before the 1762 earthquake. The presence of three uplifted terraces in the Teknaf coast suggest similar earthquakes of great magnitude have ruptured the Chittagong-Arakan coast in the historic past.