Episodic activity of a dormant fault in tectonically stable Europe: The Rauw fault (NE Belgium)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Authors

  • Koen Verbeeck
  • Laurent Wouters
  • Kris Vanneste
  • Thierry Camelbeeck
  • Dimitri Vandenberghe
  • Koen Beerten
  • Bart Rogiers
  • Marco Schiltz
  • Christoph Burow
  • Florias Mees
  • Johan De Grave
  • Noël Vandenberghe

Institutes & Expert groups

  • Royal Observatory of Belgium
  • NIRAS/ONDRAF
  • UGent - Universiteit Gent
  • Samsuffit-Geoservices BVBA
  • KUL - Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
  • University of Cologne/Universität zu Köln

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Abstract

Our knowledge about large earthquakes in stable continental regions comes fromstudies of faults that generated historical surface rupturing earthquakes or were identified by their recent imprint in the morphology. Here, we evaluate the co-seismic character and movement history of the Rauw fault in Belgium, which lacks geomorphological expression and historical/present seismicity. This 55-km-long normal fault, with known Neogene and possibly Early Pleistocene activity, is the largest offset fault west of the active Roer Valley Graben. Its trace was identified in the shallow subsurface based on high resolution geophysics. All the layers within the Late Pliocene Mol Formation (3.6 to 2.59 Ma) are displaced 7 m vertically, without growth faulting, but deeper deposits show increasing offset. A paleoseismic trench study revealed cryoturbated, but unfaulted, late glacial coversands overlying faulted layers of Mol Formation. In-between those deposits, the fault tip was eroded, along with evidence for individual displacement events. Fragmented clay gouge observed in a micromorphology sample of the main fault evidences co-seismic faulting, as opposed to fault creep. Based on optical and electron spin resonance dating and trench stratigraphy, the 7 m combined displacement is bracketed to have occurred between 2.59Ma and 45 ka. The regional presence of the Sterksel Formation alluvial terrace deposits, limited to the hanging wall of the Rauw fault, indicates a deflection of the Meuse/Rhine confluence (1.0 to 0.5 Ma) by the fault's activity, suggesting that most of the offset occurred prior to/at this time interval. In the trench, Sterksel Formation is eroded but reworked gravel testifies for its former presence. Hence, the Rauw fault appears as typical of plate interior context, with an episodic seismic activity concentrated between 1.0 and 0.5 Ma or at least between 2.59 Ma to 45 ka, possibly related to activity variations in the adjacent, continuously active Roer Valley Graben.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146–163
Number of pages18
JournalTectonophysics
Volume699
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2017

Keywords

  • Paleoseismology, stable continental region, Rauw fault, Campine Basin, optical dating, electron spin resonance dating

ID: 2476907