Impact of near-surface fault geometry on secular slip rate assessment derived from uplifted river terraces: implications for convergence accommodation across the frontal thrust in southern Central Bhutan

Abstract : Vertical velocities obtained from uplifted river terrace dating near mountain fronts are commonly converted into overthrusting slip rates assuming simple geometry of the fault at depth. However, the lack of information on the dip angle of these shallow structures can lead to misinterpretation in the accommodation of convergence, and thus to erroneous conclusions on the transfer of shortening to the emergent thrust faults. Here, to assess the impact of fault geometry, we focus on the eastern Himalayan region in the south Central Bhutan, where the topographic frontal thrust (TFT) has been already documented by GPS, paleoseismic, geomorphic and geological studies. This study is based on high-resolution near-surface geophysical investigations, including electrical resistivity, seismic and gravity measurements. Using a similar stochastic inversion approach for all data sets, new quantitative constraints on both fault geometry and petrophysical parameters are obtained to image shallow depths, in the upper ca. 80 m. The combined results from both surface observations and geophysical measurement provide a TFT geometry that is dipping northwards with a shallow angle at the top (0–5 m), steeply dipping in the middle (5–40 m) and flattening at deeper depths (>40 m). Together, our new constraints on the fault geometry allow us to estimate a minimum overthrusting slip rate of 10 ± 2 mm yr−1, which is only a part of the ca. 17 mm yr−1 GPS convergence. This suggests that, in the study area, significant deformation partitioning on several faults including TFT and the Main Boundary Thrust cannot be ruled out. More importantly, assuming constant slip rate, the obtained dip angle variations lead to uplift rate changes with distance to the TFT. This underlines that taking into account uplift rate from terrace dating only at the front location and assuming a constant dip angle fault geometry based on surface observations may significantly bias the slip rate estimates.
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https://hal.umontpellier.fr/hal-02131196
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Soumis le : jeudi 16 mai 2019 - 11:38:33
Dernière modification le : vendredi 2 août 2019 - 14:20:08

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Dowchu Drukpa, Stéphanie Gautier, Rodolphe Cattin, Kinley Namgay, Nicolas Le Moigne. Impact of near-surface fault geometry on secular slip rate assessment derived from uplifted river terraces: implications for convergence accommodation across the frontal thrust in southern Central Bhutan. Geophysical Journal International, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2018, 212 (2), pp.1315-1330. ⟨10.1093/gji/ggx478⟩. ⟨hal-02131196⟩

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