The Dzhungarian fault: Late Quaternary tectonics and slip rate of a major right-lateral strike-slip fault in the northern Tien Shan region



[1] The Dzhungarian strike-slip fault of Central Asia is one of a series of long, NW-SE right-lateral strike-slip faults that are characteristic of the northern Tien Shan region and extends over 300 km from the high mountains into the Kazakh Platform. Our field-based and satellite observations reveal that the Dzhungarian fault can be characterized by three 100 km long sections based on variation in strike direction. Through morphological analysis of offset streams and alluvial fans, and through optically stimulated luminescence dating, we find that the Dzhungarian fault has a minimum average late Quaternary slip rate of 2.2 ± 0.8 mm/yr and accommodates N-S shortening related to the India-Eurasia collision. This shortening may also be partly accommodated by counterclockwise rotation about a vertical axis. Evidence for a possible paleo-earthquake rupture indicates that earthquakes up to at least Mw 7 can be associated with just the partitioned component of reverse slip on segments of the central section of the fault up to 30 km long. An event rupturing longer sections of the Dzhungarian fault has the potential to generate greater magnitude earthquakes (Mw 8); however, long time periods (e.g., thousands of years) are expected in order to accumulate enough strain to generate such earthquakes.