Main content area

Surface and shallow subsurface structure of the Middle Kedrovaya paleoseismic rupture zone in the Baikal Mountains from geomorphological and ground-penetrating radar investigations

Lunina, Oksana V., Gladkov, Andrei S., Gladkov, Anton A.
Geomorphology 2019 v.326 pp. 54-67
basins, bedrock, equations, geometry, geophysics, ground-penetrating radar, landslides, mountains, remote sensing, talus, Lake Baikal
The 30-km-long Middle Kedrovaya (MK) paleoseismic rupture zone, on the northwestern flank of Lake Baikal, is one of most impressive late Quaternary fault scarps in the Baikal rift. The aim of this study is to reconstruct the near-surface fault geometry of the MK fault zone to clarify its past movement history and seismic potential. We applied ground penetrating radar (GPR), along with high-resolution satellite imagery and field surface observations, to analyze the structure of the upper 12–13 m of the rupture zone and to characterize the complex structural environment in three dimensions. The GPR reveals that the shallow structure of the MK zone is defined by a combination of steep and listric normal faults, which form a surface pattern of subparallel ruptures trending predominantly N30°E. Individual surface scarps range from 5 m to 2.7 km in length and are separated by gaps of a few tens of meters to several kilometers apart. The greatest width of the scarp zone is 1.9 km. The vertical displacements measured independently from surface topographic profiles and from GPR radargrams are linearly related. The height of the main footwall (head) scarp is always 0.5–2 m greater than the throw measured on the radargrams, a result of the scarp face having broadened far up the talus slope after the latest displacement event. Maximum and average vertical normal fault displacements along the main fault trace, inferred from GPR data, are 8.3 and 4.98 m respectively. Paleoearthquake magnitude M estimated from empirical regressions ranges from 6.8 to 7.6, based on equations of M vs. surface rupture length, M vs. displacement, and M vs. landslide volume. Our study of the Middle Kedrovaya paleoseismic rupture zone confirms that listric normal faulting is widespread in the shallow (<13 m) subsurface of the western margin of the North Baikal basin. However, GPR data suggest that listric faulting is confined to the unconsolidated talus deposits and probably represents the effects of downhill gravitational sliding of the talus, and perhaps of underlying shallow bedrock. This downhill (lakeward) sliding of the hanging wall is partly responsible for the large heave component of movement on the MK rupture zone and its resulting unique geomorphic expression.This paper illustrates the practicality of investigating fault surface ruptures in complex environments by integrating data gathered by geophysics (GPR in this case) and by direct geomorphological observations. Because of the loose and mobile nature of the faulted talus deposit, the current surface morphology disguises the true number of subsurface faults, the lateral extent of faulting, and the unique structure types (all visible on radargrams) that developed to accommodate coseismic surface rupture with a large heave component.