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Geological Sciences

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Surface deformation associated with the 27 August 1931 earthquake near Mach in Baluchistan is quantified from spirit-leveling data and from detailed structural sections of the region interpreted from seismic reflection data constrained by numerous well logs. Mean slip on the west dipping Dezghat/Bannh fault system amounted to 1.2 m on a 42 km x 72 km thrust plane with slip locally attaining 3.2 m up dip of an inferred locking line at approximately 9 km depth. Slip also occurred at depths below the interseismic locking line. In contrast, negligible slip occurred in the 4 km near the interseismic locking line. The absence of slip here in the 4 years following the earthquake suggests that elastic energy there must either dissipate slowly in the interseismic cycle, or that a slip deficit remains, pending its release in a large future earthquake. Elastic models of the earthquake cycle in this fold and thrust belt suggest that slip on the frontal thrust fault is reduced by a factor of 2 to 8 compared to that anticipated from convergence of the hinterland, a partitioning process that is presumably responsible for thickening of the fold and thrust belt at the expense of slip on the frontal thrust. Near the latitude of Quetta, GPS measurements indicate that convergence is approximately 5 mm/yr. Hence the minimum renewal time between earthquakes with 1.2-m mean displacement should be as little as 240 years. However, when the partitioning of fold belt convergence to frontal thrust slip is taken into account the minimum renewal time may exceed 2000 years.




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