Fault Geometry and Kinematics of the Main Frontal Thrust in Central Nepal Constrained With Active Source Seismic Data
Abstract:The foreland thrust belt of the Himalayan orogen has been active since at least 2 Ma, deforming the Siwaliks Group, a 5-6 km thick section of continental Miocene-Pliocene strata. This terrane is bounded by the Main Boundary Thrust to the north and by the Main Frontal Thrust (MFT) to the south. For a long time, the MFT was long considered a blind system; only recently have surface exposures been identified, tied to large historical earthquakes. In many maps, the MFT is drawn as a single, continuous fault. However, it is actually composed of many fault segments, with overlaps and steps, whose timing and structural linkage are poorly constrained. This complex fault system represents the frontal portion of the large, active megathrust that is accommodating the India-Eurasia collision.
We present some of the first seismic reflection profiles ever acquired across these thrusts. These profiles were acquired with a 7 ton Vibroseis source and a 264 channel seismic recording system over three field seasons in 2014 and 2015. As part of our study, we acquired 12 serial 2D profiles totalling ~70 km across a right-step of the fault system, where both fault segments have been identified as having slipped in the1934 Mw8.4 Nepal-Bihar earthquake. Our data image to a depth of 2-2.5 km and constrain the geometries and kinematics of these overlapping faults, with associated folding. Our data show that the faults are listric, that they overlap for over 10 (?) km along strike and produce short wavelength (~1 km) fault-propagation folds and longer wavelength fault-bend folds.
Fault slip in this area has led to the progressive uplift and abandonment of strath terraces. Our new data will allow us to constrain the dips and kinematics of the different fault segments in order to convert uplift rates into slip rates on the fault segments, to more accurately assess the rate of shortening on the MFT in central Nepal.