Oblique Plate Convergence in the Indo-Burma (Myanmar) Subduction Region
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— The Indo-Burma (Myanmar) subduction boundary is highly oblique to the direction of relative velocity of the Indian tectonic plate with respect to the Eurasian plate. The area includes features of active subduction zones such as a Wadati-Benioff zone of earthquakes, a magmatic arc, thrust and fold belts. It also has features of oblique subduction such as: an arc-parallel strike-slip fault (Sagaing Fault) that takes up a large fraction of the northward component of motion and a buttress (the Mishmi block) that resists the motion of the fore-arc sliver.
In this paper, I have examined the seismicity, slip vectors and principal axes of the focal mechanisms of the earthquakes to look for features of active subduction zones and for evidence of slip partitioning as observed in other subduction zones. The data set consists of Harvard CMT solutions of 89 earthquakes (1977–1999 with 4.8≰M w ≰7.2 and depths between 3–140 km). Most of these events are shallow and intermediate depth events occurring within the Indian plate subducting eastward beneath the Indo-Burman ranges. Some shallow events within the fore-arc region have arc-parallel Paxes, reflecting buttressing of the fore-arc sliver at its leading edge. Some of the shallowest events have nearly E-W oriented P axes which might account for recent folding and thrusting. Examination of earthquake slip vectors in this region shows that the slip vector azimuths of earthquakes in the region between 20°–26°N are rotated towards the trench normal, which is an indication of partial partitioning of the oblique convergence. It is seen that all aspects of seismicity, including the paucity of shallow underthrusting earthquakes and the orientation of P axes, are consistent with oblique convergence. The conclusions of this paper are consistent with recent geological studies and interpretations such as the coexistence of eastward subduction, volcanic activity and transcurrent movement through mid-Miocene to Quaternary period.
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