Abstract

The continuous record of large surface-rupturing earthquakes along the Dead Sea fault brings unprecedented insights for paleoseismic and archaeoseismic research. In most recent studies, paleoseismic trenching documents the late Holocene faulting activity, while tectonic geomorphology addresses the long-term behavior (>10 ka), with a tendency to smooth the effect of individual earthquake rupture events (Mw>7). Here, we combine historical, archaeological, and paleoseismic investigations to build a consolidated catalog of destructive surface-rupturing earthquakes for the last 14 ka along the left-lateral Jordan Valley fault segment. The 120-km-long fault segment limited to the north and the south by major pull-apart basins (the Hula and the Dead Sea, respectively) is mapped in detail and shows five subsegments with narrow stepovers (width<3 km). We conducted quantitative geomorphology along the fault, measured more than 20 offset drainages, excavated four trenches at two sites, and investigated archaeological sites with seismic damage in the Jordan Valley. Our results in paleoseismic trenching with 28 radiocarbon datings and the archaeoseismology at Tell Saydiyeh, supplemented with a rich historical seismic record, document 12 surface-rupturing events along the fault segment with a mean interval of ∼1160 yr and an average 5 mm/yr slip rate for the last 25 ka. The most complete part of the catalog indicates recurrence intervals that vary from 280 yr to 1500 yr, with a median value of 790 yr, and suggests an episodic behavior for the Jordan Valley fault. Our study allows a better constraint of the seismic cycle and related short-term variations (late Holocene) versus long-term behavior (Holocene and late Pleistocene) of a major continental transform fault.

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