The East Anatolian Fault Zone: Seismotectonic setting and spatiotemporal characteristics of seismicity based on precise earthquake locations


JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-SOLID EARTH, vol.117, 2012 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier


The East Anatolian Fault Zone (EAFZ) represents a plate boundary extending over similar to 500 km between the Arabian and Anatolian plates. Relative plate motion occurs with slip rates ranging from 6 to 10 mm/yr and has resulted in destructive earthquakes in eastern Turkey as documented by historical records. In this study, we investigate the seismic activity along the EAFZ and fault kinematics based on recordings from a densified regional seismic network providing the best possible azimuthal coverage for the target region. We optimize a reference 1-D velocity model using a grid-search approach and re-locate hypocenters using the Double-Difference earthquake relocation technique. The refined hypocenter catalog provides insights into the kinematics and internal deformation of the fault zone down to a resolution ranging typically between 100 and 200 m. The distribution of hypocenters suggests that the EAFZ is characterized by NE-SW and E-W oriented sub-segments that are sub-parallel to the overall trend of the fault zone. Faulting mechanisms are predominantly left-lateral strike-slip and thus in good correlation with the deformation pattern derived from regional GPS data. However, we also observe local clusters of thrust and normal faulting events, respectively. While normal faulting events typically occur on NS-trending subsidiary faults, thrust faulting is restricted to EW-trending structures. This observation is in good accordance with kinematic models proposed for evolving shear zones. The observed spatiotemporal evolution of hypocenters indicates a systematic migration of micro- and moderate-sized earthquakes from the main fault into adjacent fault segments within several days documenting progressive interaction between the major branch of the EAFZ and its secondary structures. Analyzing the pre versus post-seismic phase for M > 5 events we find that aftershock activities are initially spread to the entire source region for several months but start to cluster at the central part of the main shock rupture thereafter.