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Geomorphological features of active tectonics and ongoing seismicity of northeastern Kumaun Himalaya, Uttarakhand, India

Abstract

The northeastern part of Kumaun Lesser Himalaya, Uttarakhand, India, lying between the rupture zones of 1905, Kangra and 1934, Bihar–Nepal earthquakes and known as ‘central seismic gap’ is a segment of an active fault known to produce significant earthquakes and has not slipped in an unusually long time when compared to other segments. The studied section forms a part of this seismic gap and is seismically an active segment of the Himalayan arc, as compared to the remaining part of the Kumaun Lesser Himalaya and it is evident by active geomorphological features and seismicity data. The geomorphological features of various river valley transects suggest that the region had a history of tectonic rejuvenation which is testified by the deposition of various levels of terraces and their relative uplift, shifting and ponding of river channels, uplifted potholes, triangular facets on fault planes, fault scarps, etc. Further, the seismic data of five-station digital telemetered seismic network along with two stand alone systems show the distribution of earthquakes in or along the analyzed fault transects. It is observed that the microseismic earthquakes (magnitude 1.0–3.0) frequently occur in the region and hypocenters of these earthquakes are confined to shallow depths (10–20 km), with low stress drop values (1.0–10 bar) and higher peak ground velocity (PGV). The cluster of events is observed in the region, sandwiched between the Berinag Thrust (BT) in south and Main Central Thrust (MCT) in north. The occurrences of shallow focus earthquakes and the surface deformational features in the different river valley transect indicates that the region is undergoing neotectonic rejuvenation. In absence of chronology of the deposits it is difficult to relate it with extant seismicity, but from the geomorphic and seismic observations it may be concluded that the region is still tectonically active. The information would be very important in identifying the areas of hazard prone and also planning and designing of the socio-economic projects.

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Acknowledgements

The authors express their sincere gratitude to the Ministry of Earth Sciences, New Delhi for sponsoring the SNKH project. They are thankful to the Head, Centre of Advanced Study in Geology, Kumaun University for providing the infrastructural facility. Dr B K Bansal, Head Geosciences, New Delhi, Dr Ajay Paul, WIHG, Dehradun and Prof. P K Goswami, Kumaun University, Nainital are acknowledged for fruitful discussion and suggestions. The three anonymous reviewers are also thanked for suggestions which substantially improved the manuscript.

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Pathak, V., Pant, C.C. & Darmwal, G.S. Geomorphological features of active tectonics and ongoing seismicity of northeastern Kumaun Himalaya, Uttarakhand, India. J Earth Syst Sci 124, 1143–1157 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12040-015-0611-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12040-015-0611-8

Keywords

  • Northeastern Kumaun
  • central seismic gap
  • geomorphology
  • seismicity
  • telemetered seismic network.