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ABSTRACT

The seismically active Pambak-Sevan-Syunik fault system is the largest of its kind in Armenia. During 2004–2012, archaeoseismological and paleoseismological studies were carried out along the southeastern segment of the active Pambak- Sevan-Syunik fault system (PSSF-3). These studies were conducted at six sites located within a 43-km-long section of the fault segment. Earthquake signs were studied on the northernmost site, in an ancient settlement dated to the Middle Bronze Age (the twenty-fourth to sixteenth centuries BCE). Offsets of barrows and walls dated to the Late Bronze–Early Iron Age (the twelfth to ninth centuries BCE) by surface ruptures were studied in some other localities of PSSF-3. Surface breaks caused by strong earthquakes were recorded at all the studied sites; some were observed to have caused 5.2 m to 8 m offsets of ancient structures by right-lateral strike-slip faulting. Radiocarbon dating of the earthquake that generated these surface breaks indicated that it occurred between the first and the fourth centuries CE. There is, indeed, historical evidence for a strong earthquake in the studied region dated to 368 CE. Signs of even older earthquakes were identified in two places in the excavated old structures and in paleoseismological trenches, and these were related to the Middle Bronze Age. The new data and discussion enable reestimation of the seismic hazard and slip rates for the southeastern segment of the Pambak-Sevan-Syunik fault system.

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