, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 315-325

Geological setting of the 8 October 2005 Kashmir earthquake

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Abstract

The source of the 8 October 2005 earthquake of M 7.6 was the northwest-striking Balakot–Bagh (B–B) fault, which had been mapped by the Geological Survey of Pakistan prior to the earthquake but had not been recognized as active except for a 16-km section near Muzaffarabad. The fault follows the Indus–Kohistan Seismic Zone (IKSZ); both cut across and locally offset the Hazara–Kashmir Syntaxis defined by the Main Boundary and Panjal thrusts. The fault has no expression in facies of the Miocene–Pleistocene Siwalik Group but does offset late Pleistocene terrace surfaces in Pakistan-administered Jammu-Kashmir. Two en-échelon anticlines near Muzaffarabad and Balakot expose Precambrian Muzaffarabad Limestone and are cut by the B–B fault on their southwest sides, suggesting that folding and exposure of Precambrian rocks by erosion accompanied Quaternary displacement along the fault. The B–B fault has reverse separation, northeast side up; uplift of the northeast side accompanied displacement, producing higher topography and steeper stream gradients northeast of the fault. No surface expression of the B–B fault has been found northwest of the syntaxis, although the IKSZ and steeper stream gradients continue at least as far as the Indus River, the site of the Pattan earthquake of M 6.2 in 1974. To the southeast, northwest-striking faults were mapped by the Geological Survey of Pakistan. One of these faults, the Riasi thrust, cuts across the southwest flank of an anticline exposing Precambrian limestone. Farther southeast, in Indian-administered territory, Holocene activity on the Riasi thrust has been described. In the Kangra reentrant still farther southeast, active faulting may follow the Soan thrust, along which Holocene and Pleistocene offsets have been described. The Soan thrust, rather than the south flank of the Janauri anticline, may represent the surface projection of the 1905 Kangra earthquake of M 7.8.