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Geological Sciences

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The Makran subduction zone is one of the last convergent margins to be investigated using space-based geodesy. While there is a lack of historical and modern instrumentation in the region, a sparse sampling of continuous and campaign measurements over the past decade has allowed us to make the first estimates of convergence rates. We combine GPS measurements from 20 stations located in Iran, Pakistan and Oman along with hypocentral locations from the International Seismological Centre to create a preliminary 3-D estimate of the geometry of the megathrust, along with a preliminary fault-coupling model for the Makran subduction zone. Using a convergence rate which is strongly constrained by measurements from the incoming Arabia plate along with the backslip method of Savage, we find the Makran subduction zone appears to be locked to a depth of at least 38 km and accumulating strain.We also find evidence for a segmentation of plate coupling, with a 300 km long section of reduced plate coupling. The range of acceptable locking depths from our modelling and the 900 km along-strike length for the megathrust, makes the Makran subduction zone capable of earthquakes up to Mw = 8.8. In addition, we find evidence for slow-slip-like transient deformation events on two GPS stations. These observations are suggestive of transient deformation events observed in Cascadia, Japan and elsewhere.


This article has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Journal International ©: 2016 the Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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Geophysical Journal International


© The Authors 2016.