Active faulting in a populated low-strain setting (Lower Rhine Graben, Central Europe) identified by geomorphic, geophysical and geological analysis
Published:January 01, 2017
S. Kübler, R. Streich, E. Lück, M. Hoffmann, A. M. Friedrich, M. R. Strecker, 2017. "Active faulting in a populated low-strain setting (Lower Rhine Graben, Central Europe) identified by geomorphic, geophysical and geological analysis", Seismicity, Fault Rupture and Earthquake Hazards in Slowly Deforming Regions, A. Landgraf, S. Kübler, E. Hintersberger, S. Stein
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The Lower Rhine Graben (Central Europe) is a prime example of a seismically active low-strain rift zone characterized by pronounced anthropogenic and climatic overprint of structures, and long recurrence intervals of large earthquakes. These factors render the identification of active faults and surface ruptures difficult. We investigated two fault scarps in the Lower Rhine Graben, to decipher their structural character, offset and potential seismogenic origin. Both scarps were modified by anthropogenic activity. The Hemmerich site lies c. 20 km SW of Cologne, along the Erft Fault. The Untermaubach site lies SW of Düren, where the Schafberg Fault projects into the Rur River valley. At the Hemmerich site, geomorphic and geophysical data, as well as exploratory coring reveal evidence of repeated normal faulting. Geophysical analysis and palaeoseismological excavation at the Untermaubach site reveal a complex fault zone in Holocene gravels characterized by subtle gravel deformation. Differentiation of tectonic and fluvial features was only possible with trenching, because fault structures and grain sizes of the sediments were below the resolution of the geophysical data. Despite these issues, our investigation demonstrates that valuable insight into past earthquakes and seismogenic deformation in a low-strain environment can be revealed using a multidisciplinary approach.
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Seismicity, Fault Rupture and Earthquake Hazards in Slowly Deforming Regions
Palaeoseismic records and seismological data from continental interiors increasingly show that these areas of slow strain accumulation are more subject to seismic and associated natural hazards than previously thought. Moreover, some of our instincts developed for assessing hazards at plate boundaries might not apply here. Hence assessing hazards and drawing implications for the future is challenging, and how well it can be done heavily depends on the ability to assess the spatiotemporal distribution of past large earthquakes. This book explores some key issues in understanding hazards in slowly deforming areas. Examples include classic intraplate regions, such as Central and Northern Europe, Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, Australia, and North and South America, and regions of widely distributed strain, such as the Tien Shan Mountains in Central Asia. The papers in this volume are grouped into two sections. The first section deals with instrumental and historical earthquake data and associated hazard assessments. The second section covers methods from structural geology, palaeoseismology and tectonic geomorphology, and incorporates field evidence.