Geomorphic response to an active transpressive regime: a case study along the Chaman strike-slip fault, western Pakistan


Correspondence to: Shams Ul-Hadi, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Houston, Houston, TX 77004, USA. E-mail:


The Chaman left-lateral strike-slip fault bounds the rigid Indian plate boundary at the western end of the Himalayan-Tibetan orogen and is marked by contrasting topographic relief. Deformed landforms along the fault provide an excellent record for understanding this actively evolving intra-continental strike-slip fault. The geomorphic response of an active transpessional stretch of the Chaman fault was studied using digital elevation model (DEM) data integrated with Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) Visible and Near Infrared/Short Wave Infrared (VNIR/SWIR) and images from GeoEye-1. Geologic and geomorphic mapping helped in reconstructing the Late Quaternary landscape history of this transpessional strand of the Chaman strike-slip fault and the associated Spinatizha thrust fault in western Pakistan. Topographic analysis of a part of the transpression (the thrust bounded Roghani ridge) revealed northward growth of the Spinatizha fault with the presence of three water gaps and two corresponding wind gaps. Geomorphic indices including stream length-gradient index, mountain front sinuosity, valley floor width to valley height ratios, and entrenchment of recent alluvial fan deposits were used to define the lateral growth and direction of propagation of the Spinatizha fault. Left-lateral displacement along Chaman fault and uplift along the Spinatizha fault was defined using topographic analysis of the Roghani ridge and geomorphic mapping of an impressive alluvial fan, the Bostankaul fan. The landforms and structures record slip partitioning along the Indian plate boundary, and account for the convergence resulting from the difference in the Chaman fault azimuth and orientation of the velocity vector of the Indian plate. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.