• Open Access

Thermal structure and megathrust seismogenic potential of the Makran subduction zone



[1] The Makran subduction zone experienced a tsunamigenic Mw 8.1 earthquake in 1945 and recent, smaller earthquakes also suggest seismicity on the megathrust; however, its historical record is limited and hazard potential enigmatic. We have developed a 2-D thermal model of the subduction zone. The results are twofold: (1) The thick sediment cover on the incoming plate leads to high (~150°) plate boundary temperatures at the deformation front making the megathrust potentially seismogenic to a shallow depth, and (2) the shallow dip of the subducting plate leads to a wide potential seismogenic zone (up to ~350 km). Combining these results with along strike rupture scenarios indicates that Mw8.7–9.2 earthquakes are possible in the seaward Makran subduction zone. These results have important earthquake and tsunami hazard implications, particularly for the adjacent coastlines of Pakistan, Iran, Oman, and India, as the Makran has not been previously considered a likely candidate for a Mw > 9 earthquake.