Research ArticleEARTH SCIENCES

The discovery of a conjugate system of faults in the Wharton Basin intraplate deformation zone

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Science Advances  04 Jan 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 1, e1601689
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601689

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Abstract

The deformation at well-defined, narrow plate boundaries depends on the relative plate motion, but how the deformation takes place within a distributed plate boundary zone remains a conundrum. This was confirmed by the seismological analyses of the 2012 great Wharton Basin earthquakes [moment magnitude (Mw) 8.6], which suggested the rupture of several faults at high angles to one another. Using high-resolution bathymetry and seismic reflection data, we report the discovery of new N294°E-striking shear zones, oblique to the plate fabric. These shear zones are expressed by sets of normal faults striking at N335°E, defining the direction of the principal compressional stress in the region. Also, we have imaged left-lateral strike-slip faults along reactivated N7°E-oriented oceanic fracture zones. The shear zones and the reactivated fracture zones form a conjugate system of faults, which accommodate present-day intraplate deformation in the Wharton Basin.

Keywords
  • Great earthquakes
  • Wharton Basin
  • Intra-plate deformation
  • Active Tectonics
  • Indian Ocean

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