Natural Hazards

, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 219–239 | Cite as

The hazard potential of the western segment of the Makran subduction zone, northern Arabian Sea

  • C. P. RajendranEmail author
  • Kusala Rajendran
  • Majid Shah-hosseini
  • Abdolmajid Naderi Beni
  • C. M. Nautiyal
  • Ronia Andrews
Original Paper


Evaluating the hazard potential of the Makran subduction zone requires understanding the previous records of the large earthquakes and tsunamis. We address this problem by searching for earthquake and tectonic proxies along the Makran Coast and linking those observations with the available constraints on historical seismicity and the tell-tale characteristics of sea floor morphology. The earthquake of Mw 8.1 of 1945 and the consequent tsunami that originated on the eastern part of the Makran are the only historically known hazardous events in this region. The seismic status of the western part of the subduction zone outside the rupture area of the 1945 earthquake remains an enigma. The near-shore shallow stratigraphy of the central part of Makran near Chabahar shows evidence of seismically induced liquefaction that we attribute to the distant effects of the 1945 earthquake. The coastal sites further westward around Jask are remarkable for the absence of liquefaction features, at least at the shallow level. Although a negative evidence, this possibly implies that the western part of Makran Coast region may not have been impacted by near-field large earthquakes in the recent past—a fact also supported by the analysis of historical data. On the other hand, the elevated marine terraces on the western Makran and their uplift rates are indicative of comparable degree of long-term tectonic activity, at least around Chabahar. The offshore data suggest occurrences of recently active submarine slumps on the eastern part of the Makran, reflective of shaking events, owing to the great 1945 earthquake. The ocean floor morphologic features on the western segment, on the contrary, are much subdued and the prograding delta lobes on the shelf edge also remain intact. The coast on the western Makran, in general, shows indications of progradation and uplift. The various lines of evidence thus suggest that although the western segment is potentially seismogenic, large earthquakes have not occurred there in the recent past, at least during the last 600 years. The recurrence period of earthquakes may range up to 1,000 years or more, an assessment based on the age of the youngest dated coastal ridge. The long elapsed time points to the fact that the western segment may have accumulated sufficient slip to produce a major earthquake.


Makran subduction zone Hazard potential Earthquake recurrence Tsunami Tectonics 



We thank the Vahid Chengini, Director, Iranian National Oceanographic Institute, Tehran, for the help and logistics to conduct fieldwork along the Makran Coast. CPR thanks the Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi, for the Ramanujan Fellowship scheme for the financial support to visit Chabahar (Iran) during November 2008. The Indian Ocean Commission, UNESCO, funded the fieldwork during October 2010. We are thankful to Jane Cunneen and Brian Atwater for all their help. We thank Eduard Reinhardt, McMaster University, for his help during our first phase of fieldwork in Chabahar, and Razyeh Lak and Ali Mohamadi of the Geological Survey of Iran and Eko Yulianto of Indonesian Institute of Sciences (Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia) for their help during the second phase of fieldwork around Jask and Bandar Abbas. CPR and KR thank the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India, and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services, Hyderabad, India, for supporting earthquake and tsunami research at the Centre for Earth Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science. The manuscript improved much from the comments of three anonymous reviewers and the editor Thomas Glade.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. P. Rajendran
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kusala Rajendran
    • 1
  • Majid Shah-hosseini
    • 2
  • Abdolmajid Naderi Beni
    • 2
  • C. M. Nautiyal
    • 3
  • Ronia Andrews
    • 1
  1. 1.Indian Institute of Science, Centre for Earth SciencesBangaloreIndia
  2. 2.Iranian National Center for OceanographyTehranIran
  3. 3.Birbal Sahni Institute of PalaeobotanyLucknowIndia

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