Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 901–920 | Cite as

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

  • X. BoësEmail author
  • S. B. Moran
  • J. King
  • M. N. Cağatay
  • A. Hubert-Ferrari
Original paper


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.


Europe NAF Tectonic Palaeoseismology Erzincan Seismites Radionuclide tracers Geochronology 



This study was carried out within the framework of the EC FP6 Marie Curie Excellence Grant project titled Understanding the irregularity of seismic cycles: A case study in Turkey. We are grateful to the European Commission, Human Resources and Mobility for funding. The Fulbright commission is acknowledged for providing a grant to XB for studies at the University of Rhode Island. We thank the Eastern Mediterranean Centre for Oceanography and Limnology (EMCOL) at the Technical University of Istanbul for providing laboratory facilities, for assisting in summer field campaigns, and for XRF elemental analysis. Special thanks are due to the EMCOL personnel and students: Celal Somuncuoğlu, Emre Damci, Dursun Acar, and Sena Akcer. We acknowledge the contribution of Ulas Avsar (University of Gent), David Garcia (ROB), and Sevgi Altinok (University of Eskisehir). We also thank Roger Kelly, Scott Stachelhaus, Danielle Cares and Chip Heil of the Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, for assistance in radionuclide analysis and analysis of physical sediment properties. Finally, thanks are due to Chantal Tribolo for consultation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • X. Boës
    • 1
    Email author
  • S. B. Moran
    • 2
  • J. King
    • 2
  • M. N. Cağatay
    • 3
  • A. Hubert-Ferrari
    • 1
  1. 1.Observatoire Royal de Belgique, Service de SéismologieUccleBelgium
  2. 2.Graduate School of OceanographyUniversity of Rhode IslandNarragansettUSA
  3. 3.Eastern Mediterranean Centre for Oceanography and Limnology, Department of Geological EngineeringIstanbul Technical UniversityMaslakTurkey

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