Active tectonics analysis of the Kalmard fault zone, Central Iran

  • M. Moumeni-Taromsari
  • M. Dehbozorgi
  • R. Nozaem
  • A. Yassaghi
Original Paper


Central-East Iran has numerous active Quaternary faults. This paper focuses on the analysis of geomorphic and structural characteristics of the Kalmard fault zone, including major NE–SW striking fault segments that cuts across the basement and the sedimentary cover in the Ozbak-Kuh area of Central-East Iran. Because of the absence of definite earthquakes through the Kalmard fault zone in contrast to other parts of Central Iran, we used morphotectonic methods in combination of structural studies to evaluate active tectonics of this area. Detailed structural assessment of satellite images and analysis of geomorphic indices, together with field surveys allowed us to evaluate the recent tectonic activity and support a Quaternary age for it. We used six morphometric indices including the stream-gradient index (SL), drainage basin asymmetry (Af), hypsometric integral (Hi), valley floor width–valley height ratio (Vf), drainage basin shape (Bs), and mountain-front sinuosity (Smf). We combined these indices to yield the relative active tectonics index (Iat). Based on Iat values, the study area includes class 1 (very high activity), class 2 (high), class 3 (moderate), and class 4 (low). Also the normalized steepness index (Ksn) represents a significant pattern of high values in the eastern and southeastern parts of the study area which correspond with high values of Iat index. The output is consistent with both landforms and structures observed during the field work. In particular, the high relative tectonic activity (classes 1 and 2) largely corresponds to F1 (the eastern segment of the Kalmard Fault Zone) in the Ozbak-Kuh area, while the moderate class of tectonic activity caracterizes F2 (the western segment of the Kalmarad Fault Zone). The older geological structures in the middle part of the area show the lowest relative tectonic activity. The results of this study indicate that the Kalmard fault zone is one of the major Quaternary fault zones of Central-East Iran which is potentially active.


Active tectonics Geomorphic indices Kalmard fault zone, Ozbak-Kuh Central-East Iran 



The authors appreciate Professor Federico Rossetti and Professor Paolo Ballato of Roma Tre University for their useful comments and precious time to improve our manuscript. Also, we would like to thank Shima Babaei for her great help.


  1. Agard P, Omrani J, Jolivet J, Whiterurch H, Vrielynck B, Spakman W, Monie P, Meyer B, Wortel R (2011) Zagros orogeny: a subduction-dominated process. Geol Mag 148:692–725CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alavi M (1991) Tectonic map of the Middle East: Tehran. Geological Survey of Iran, scale 1:5,000,000Google Scholar
  3. Allen M, Jackson J, Walker R (2004) Late Cenozoic reorganization of the Arabia-Eurasia collision and the comparison of short-term and longterm deformation rates. Tectonics 23:TC2008. Google Scholar
  4. Azor A, Keller EA, Yeats RS (2002) Geomorphic indicators of active fold growth: South Mountain–Oak Ridge Ventura basin, Southern California. Geol Soc Am Bull 114:745–753CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bagheri S, Stampli GM (2008) The Anarak, Jandaq and Posht-e–Badam metamorphic complexes in Central Iran: new geological data, relationships and tectonic implications. Tectonophysics 451:123–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berberian M, King GCP (1981) Towards a paleogeography and tectonic evolution of Iran. Can J Earth Sci 18:210–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berberian M, Mohajer-Ashjai A (1977) SEISMIC RISK MAP OF 1RAN, A PROPOSALGoogle Scholar
  8. Bull W.B (1978) Geomorphic Tectonic Classes of the South Front of the San Gabriel Mountains, California. U.S. Geological Survey Contract Report, 14–08-001-G-394, Office of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Engineering, Menlo Park, CAGoogle Scholar
  9. Bull WB (2007) Tectonic geomorphology of mountains: a newapproach to paleoseismology. Blackwell, MaldenCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bull WB (2009) Tectonically active landscapes. Wiley-Blackwell.
  11. Bull WB, McFadden LD (1977) Tectonic geomorphology north and south of the Garlock fault, California. In: Doehring, D.O. (Ed.), Geomorphology in Arid Regions. Proceedings of the Eighth Annual Geomorphology Symposium, State University of New York, Binghamton, pp. 115–138Google Scholar
  12. Calzolari G, Rossetti F, Della Seta M, Nozaem R, Olivetti V, Balestrieri ML, Cosentino D, Faccenna C, Stuart FM, Vignaroli G (2015) Spatio-temporal evolution of intraplate strike-slip faulting: the Neogene–quaternary Kuh-e-Faghan fault, Central Iran. Geol Soc Am Bull 128(3–4):374–396Google Scholar
  13. Calzolari G, Della Seta M, Rossetti F, Nozaem R, Vignaroli G, Cosentino D, Faccenna C (2016) Geomorphic signal of active faulting at the northern edge of Lut block: insights on the kinematic scenario of Central Iran. Tectonics 35(1):76–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cannon PJ (1976) Generation of explicit parameters for a quantitative geomorphic study of Mill Creek drainage basin. Oklahoma Geology Notes 36(1):3–16Google Scholar
  15. Chang Z, Sun W, Wang J (2015) Assessment of the relative tectonic activity in the Bailongjiang Basin: insights from DEM-derived geomorphic indices. Environ Earth Sci 74(6):5143–5153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Davoudzadeh M, Soffel H, Schmith K (1981) On the rotation of the Central-East Iran microplate. NeuesJahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie (Monatsheft) 3:180–192Google Scholar
  17. Dehbozorgi M, Pourkermani M, Arian M, Matkan AA, Motamedi H, Hosseiniasl A (2010) Quantitative analysis of relative tectonic activity in the Sarvestan area, central Zagros, Iran. Geomorphology 121(3):329–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. El Hamdouni R, Irigaray C, Fernandez T, Chacón J, Keller EA (2008) Assessment of relative active tectonics, southwest border of Sierra Nevada (southern Spain). Geomorphology 96:150–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fattahi M, Walker R, Hollingsworth J, Bahroudi A, Nazari H, Talebian M, Armitage S, Stokes S (2006) Holocene slip-rate on the Sabzevar thrust fault, NE Iran, determined using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL). Earth Planet Sci Lett 245:673–684CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fattahi M, Walker RT, Khatib MM, Dolati A, Bahroudi A (2007) Slip-rate estimate and past earthquakes on the Doruneh fault, eastern Iran. Geophys J Int 168:691–709CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Flint JJ (1974) Stream gradient as a function of order, magnitude, and discharge. Water Resour Res 10:969–973CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hack JT (1957) Studies of longitudinal streamprofiles in Virginia andMaryland. U.S. Geol Surv Prof Pap 294-B:45–97Google Scholar
  23. Hack JT (1973) Stream-profiles analysis and stream-gradient index. Journal of Research of the US Geological Survey 1:421–429Google Scholar
  24. Haghipour A, Aghanabati A (1989) Geological map of Iran. (2nd edition): Tehran, geological survey of Iran, scale 1:2,500,000Google Scholar
  25. Hare P.W, Gardner T.W (1985) Geomorphic indicators of vertical neotectonism along converging plate margins, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. In: Morisawa, M., Hack, J.T. (Eds.) Tectonic Geomorphology. Proceedings of the 15th Annual Binghamton Geomorphology Symposium, Allen and Unwin, Boston, pp. 123–134Google Scholar
  26. Hayakawa Y, Matsukura Y (2003) Recession rates of waterfalls in Boso Peninsula, Japan, and a predictive equation. Earth Surf Process Landf 28:675–684CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hayakawa YS, Oguchi T (2009) GIS analysis of fluvial knickzone distribution in Japanese mountain watersheds. Geomorphology 111:27–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jackson J, McKenzie D (1984) Active tectonics of the Alpine—Himalayan Belt between western Turkey and Pakistan. Geophys J Int 77(1):185–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kaewmuangmoon S, Thipyopass S, Kosuwan S, Daorerk V, Charusiri P (2008) Investigations on tectonic geomorphology along the Khlong Marui fault, Kao Phanom area, southern Thailand: application of arc GIS approach. In Proceedings of the International Symposia on Geoscience Resources and Environments of Asian Terranes (GREAT 2008), 4th IGCP (Vol. 516, pp. 24–26)Google Scholar
  30. Keller EA (1986) Investigation of active tectonics: use of surficial Earth processes. In: Wallace, R.E. (Ed.), Active tectonics. Studies in Geophysics. National Academy Press, Washington DC, pp. 136–147Google Scholar
  31. Keller E.A, Pinter N (2002) Active tectonics: earthquakes, uplift, and landscape (2ndEd). Prentice Hall, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  32. Kirby E, Ouimet W.B (2011) Tectonic geomorphology along the eastern margin of Tibet: insights into the pattern and processes of active deformation adjacent to the Sichuan Basin. In: Gloaguen, R., Ratschbacher, L. (Eds.), Growth and Collaps of the Tibetan Plateau. Geological Society Special Publications, London. 353, pp. 165–188Google Scholar
  33. Kirby E, Whipple K (2001) Quantifying differential rock-uplift rates via stream profile analysis. Geology 29:415–418CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kirby E, Whipple KX, Tang W, Chen Z (2003) Distribution of active rock uplift along the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau: inferences from bedrock channel longitudinal profiles. J Geophys Res 108(B4):2217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lindenberg HG, Groler K, Jacobshagen V, Ibbeken H (1984) Post-Paleozoic stratigraphy, structure and orogenetic evolution of the southern Sabzevar zone and the Taknar block. NeuesJahrbuch fur Geologie und Palaontologie, Abhhandlungen 168:287–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mayer L (1990) Introduction to Quantitative Geomorphology. Prentice Hall, Englewood, Cliffs, NJGoogle Scholar
  37. Molin P, Pazzaglia FJ, Dramis F (2004) Geomorphic expression of active tectonics in a rapidly-deforming forearc, sila massif, Calabria, southern Italy. Am J Sci 304:559–589CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mouthereau F, Lacombe O, Vergés J (2012) Building the Zagros collisional orogen: timing, strain distribution and the dynamics of Arabia/Eurasia plate convergence. Tectonophysics 532–535:27–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Naimi-Ghassabian N, Khatib M-M, Nazari H, Heyhat MR (2015) Present day tectonic regime and stress patterns from the formal inversion of focal mechanism data, in the north of central-East Iran blocks. J Afr Earth Sci 111:113–126. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Nozaem R, Mohajjel M, Rossetti F, Della Seta M, Vignaroli G, Yassaghi A, Salvini F, Eliassi M (2013) Post-Neogene right-lateral strike–slip tectonics at the north-western edge of the Lut Block (Kuh-e–Sarhangi Fault), Central Iran. Tectonophysics. 589:220–233Google Scholar
  41. Pe’rez-Peña JV, Azaño’n JM, Azor A (2009) CalHypso: an ArcGIS extension to calculate hypsometric curves and their statistical moments, applications to drainage basin analysis in SE Spain. Comput Geosci 35(6):1214–1223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pike RJ, Wilson SE (1971) Elevation–relief ratio, hypsometric integral and geomorphic area–altitude analysis. Geol Soc Am Bull 82:1079–1084CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ramezani J, Tucker R (2003) The Saghand region, Central IRAN: U–Pb geochronology, petrogenesis and implication for Gondwana tectonics. Am J Sci 303:622–665CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Ramírez-Herrera MT (1998) Geomorphic assessment of active tectonics in the Acambay Graben, Mexican volcanic belt. Earth Surf Process Landf 23:317–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Regard V, Bellier O, Thomas JC, Bourles D, Bonnet S, Abbassi MR, Feghhi K (2005) Cumulative right-lateral fault slip rate across the Zagros– Makran transfer zone: role of the Minab–Zendanfault system in accommodating Arabia–Eurasia convergence in southeast Iran. Geophys J Int 162:177–203. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Regard V, Bellier O, Braucher R, Gasse F, Bourlès D, Mercier J, Soleymani S (2006) Be-10 dating of alluvial deposits from southeastern Iran (the Hormoz Strait area). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 242:36–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rockwell TK, Keller EA, Johnson DL (1985) Tectonic geomorphology of alluvial fans and mountain fronts near Ventura, California. In: Morisawa M (ed) Tectonic Geomorphology. Proceedings of the 15th Annual Geomorphology Symposium. Allen and Unwin Publishers, Boston, pp 183–207Google Scholar
  48. Silva PG, Goy JL, Zazo C, Bardajm T (2003) Fault generated mountain fronts in Southeast Spain: geomorphologic assessment of tectonic and earthquake activity. Geomorphology 250:203–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Stöcklin J (1968) Structural history and tectonics of Iran; a review. Am Assoc Pet Geol Bull 52:1229–1258Google Scholar
  50. Strahler AN (1952) Hypsometric (area–altitude) analysis of erosional topography. Geol Soc Am Bull 63:1117–1142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Takin M (1972) Iranian geology and continental drift in the Middle East. Nature 235:147–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Troiani F, Della Seta M (2008) The use of the stream length–gradient index in morphotectonic analysis of small catchments: a case study from Central Italy. Geomorphology 102:159–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Vernant Ph NF, Hatzfeld D, Abassi MR, Vigny C, Masson F, Nankali H, Martinod J, Ashtiani A, Bayer R, Tavakoli F, Chery J (2004) Present day crustal deformation and plate kinematics in the Middle East constrained by GPS measurements in Iran and northern Oman. Geophys J Int 157:381–398CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Walker R, Fattahi M (2011) A framework of Holocene and Late Pleistocene environmental change in eastern Iran inferred from the dating of periods of alluvial fan abandonment, river terracing, and lake deposition. Quat Sci Rev 30:1256–1271CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Walker R, Khatib M (2006) Active faulting in the Birjand region of NE Iran. Tectonics 25:TC4016. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Whipple KX, DiBiase RA, Crosby BT (2013) Bedrock rivers. In: Schroder J, Wohl E (eds) Treatise on geomorphology, 1824. Academic Press, San Diego, CA, pp 550–573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wobus C, Whipple K.X, Kirby E, Snyder N, Johnson J, Spyropolou K, Crosby B, Sheehan D (2006) Tectonics from topography: procedures, promise, and pitfalls. Geological Society of America, 398, pp. 55–74Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Saudi Society for Geosciences 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Moumeni-Taromsari
    • 1
  • M. Dehbozorgi
    • 1
  • R. Nozaem
    • 2
  • A. Yassaghi
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesKharazmi UniversityTehranIran
  2. 2.School of Geology, College of ScienceUniversity of TehranTehranIran
  3. 3.Faculty of ScienceTarbiat Modares UniversityTehranIran

Personalised recommendations