Abstract

The northern Tien Shan is the northern front of the Himalayan mountain belt, which resulted from the collision between the Indian and Eurasian Plates. This region encompasses the most active seismic zones of the orogen, which generated the strongest (M > 8) earthquakes. Since there are scarcely any written accounts, the only way to trace back strong earthquakes is the paleoseismologic method. Since 1984 we have been studying the northwestern Issyk Kul’ basin, where there are differently directed anticlines, which constitute the Kungei meganticline. Here, several active tectonic structures (faults, folds) are located, whose development was accompanied by strong earthquakes. Our field studies of 2008 in the Iiri-Taldybulak Valley, along the adyrs (foothills) of the Kungei-Ala-Too Range, revealed two unknown historical earthquakes. The first one, which occurred along the southern rupture in the late 7th century A.D., gave rise to a seismic scarp; the latter broke through the river floodplain and a tash-koro (ancient settlement). The second one, which occurred along the northern rupture in the late 9th century A.D., increased the height of the seismic scarp, existing on the Early Holocene and older terraces. Note that this region already records a strong seismic event around 500 A.D. Archeologic data have revealed one more strong earthquake, which took place in the 14th century A.D. Note that the above-mentioned strong seismic events are coeval with the decline of the nomadic cultures (Wusun, Turkic, Mogul) in the northern Tien Shan and Zhetysu (Semirech’e).

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