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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 01 Oct 2018

Research article | 01 Oct 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Solid Earth (SE).

The Ulakhan fault surface rupture and the seismicity of the Okhotsk-North America plate boundary

David Hindle1, Boris Sedov2, Susanne Lindauer3, and Kevin Mackey4 David Hindle et al.
  • 1Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Goldschmidtstr. 3, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
  • 2University of Magadan, Geological Institute, Magadan, Russia
  • 3Klaus-Tschira-Archaeometrie Zentrum, 68159 Mannheim, Germany
  • 4Michigan State University, Dept. of Geological Sciences, East Lansing, Michigan, USA

Abstract. New field work, combined with analysis of aerial photographs, high resolution, digital elevation models, and satellite imagery has identified an active fault that is traceable for ∼90km across the Seymchan Basin, and is part of the Ulakhan fault system, which is believed to form the Okhtotsk-North America plate boundary. Age dating of alluvial fan sediments in a channel system that is disturbed by and abandoned due to fault activity, suggest the current scarp is a result of a series of large earthquakes (≥Mw 7.5) that have occurred since ∼11.5ka. A possible offset channel edge associated with these sediments yields a slip rate of ∼5–6mmyr−1, in broad agreement with rates suggested from global plate tectonics and other theoretical studies. Our results clearly identify the Ulakhan fault as the Okhotsk-North America plate boundary, and show that tectonic strain release is strongly concentrated on the boundaries of Okhotsk. In the light of our results, the likelihood of recurrence of Mw 7.5 earthquakes is high, raising serious questions of seismic hazard across the region.

David Hindle et al.
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David Hindle et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
On one of the least studied boundaries between tectonic plates, one which moves very similarly to the famous San Andreas fault in California, we have found the traces of earthquakes from the recent past, but before the time when human history could record them. What this means is that we are a little more sure that the fault is still the place where movement between the plates takes place, and when it happens again, there could be dangerous earthquakes.
On one of the least studied boundaries between tectonic plates, one which moves very similarly...