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Unravelling historic earthquakes

Unravelling historic earthquakes

Ian Watkinson

I am a structural geologist with special interests in neotectonics, paleoseismology and strike-slip tectonics. My current research largely focuses on identifying the location and effects of historic earthquakes, aiming to determine the extent of seismogenic fault segments and earthquake recurrence intervals. This involves the study of tectonic geomorphology in the field and using satellite images, paleoseismic trenching to identify and date buried surface deformation, study and dating of exhumed parts of faults to determine their long-term evolution, as well as study of modern earthquakes and their effects on landscape and human constructions.

Paleoseismic trench across the hypothesised trace of a 1912 M7.7 earthquake in central Myanmar. The trench is located close to a 20 m high linear topographic scarp representing the Kyaukkyan Fault, and is along strike from an apparent 2 m deflection of a late 19th Century railway line to Mandalay. AMS-14C dating constrains a rupture exposed on the trench walls to less than 1270 ± 30 years BP, meaning the Kyaukkyan Fault may have been the origin of the 1912 earthquake.


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