Records of large earthquakes in lake sediments along the North Anatolian Fault, Turkey

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In 1999, the large surface-rupturing earthquakes of Izmit and Duzce completed a 60-year cycle that included a westward migration of nine consecutive large earthquake failures (>50 km surface rupture), which started with the 1939 Erzincan earthquake in eastern Turkey. In this study, we focused on seismic cycles and seismic risk predictability along the North Anatolian Fault (NAF). Toward the west end of the NAF (26°E-32°E, i.e. Bolu), large earthquake frequency is measured from either historic earthquake catalogs, or geologic records from isolated outcrops and marine sediment cores from the Marmara Sea. In comparison, the eastern part of the NAF zone (32°E-42°E) is less well documented by palaeo-seismologic archives. Thus, the sediment records of lake basins located on the eastern NAF zone constitute a unique opportunity for testing a new palaeo-seismologic approach. To this end, we used a diverse array of complementary methods involving: (1) a 600-km transect of fault-related lakes, (2) sedimentologic observations on cores from six lakes, and (3) a comparison between records of catastrophic sediment transfers in lakes (i. e. radionuclide chronomarkers and erosion tracers) and historic earthquake reports. Our study indicates that lakes along the NAF are sensitive geologic recorders of large surface-rupturing earthquakes (surface-wave magnitude (M s ) ≥ 6.9); smaller intensities are not recorded. The most responsive lake systems exhibit increases in sediment accumulation by a factor of >40 for a >3-m strike-slip displacement (M s ≥ 7). However, based on results from the 1939 Erzincan earthquake (M s = 7.8) chronostratigraphic marker, large surface-rupturing earthquakes are detected only by certain lake records and not by others. Matching multiple lake records along the NAF provides information both on the location of a surface rupture of a paleo-earthquake as well as its magnitude. Finally, the shallow lake basins along the NAF could potentially document cycles of large seismic events for at least the late Holocene. © 2009 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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Journal of Paleolimnology