ABSTRACT

Recent earthquakes involving multiple fault ruptures highlight the need to evaluate complex coastal deformation mechanisms, which are important for understanding plate boundary kinematics and seismic and tsunami hazards. We compare ages and uplift of the youngest Holocene marine terraces at Puatai Beach and Pakarae River mouth (10  km apart) in the northern Hikurangi subduction margin to examine whether uplift is the result of subduction earthquakes or upper‐plate fault earthquakes. From stepped platform‐cliff morphology, we infer uplift during 2–3 earthquakes and calculate an average uplift‐per‐event of 2.9±0.5  m at Puatai Beach and 2.0±0.5  m at Pakarae River mouth. Radiocarbon ages from the youngest beach deposit shells on each terrace and a tephra coverbed on one terrace constrain the timing of earthquakes to 1770–1710, 1100–910, and 420–250 cal. B.P. at Puatai Beach, and 1490–1290 and 660–530 cal. B.P. at Pakarae River mouth. The ages differ at each site indicating uplift is neither the result of subduction earthquakes nor single upper‐plate fault earthquakes. A reinterpretation of new and existing bathymetry and seismic reflection data, combined with dislocation modeling, indicates that near‐shore fault segmentation is more complex than previously thought and ruptures likely involve multiple upper‐plate faults. Future updates of the New Zealand National Seismic Hazard Model should revise the northern Hikurangi subduction seismic sources so that rupture does not uplift Puatai Beach and Pakarae River mouth and include new near‐shore upper‐plate faults as multifault sources.

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