Ref: SCART-2017-0024

Episodic activity of a dormant fault in tectonically stable Europe: The Rauw fault (NE Belgium)

Verbeeck, Koen ; Wouters, Laurent ; Vanneste, Kris ; Camelbeeck, Thierry ; Vandenberghe, Dimitri ; Beerten, Koen ; Rogiers, Bart ; Schiltz, Marco ; Burow, Christoph ; Mees, Florias ; De Grave, Johan ; Vandenberghe, Noël

in press to Tectonophysics (2017)

Abstract: Our knowledge about large earthquakes in stable continental regions comes from studies of faults that generated historical surface rupturing earthquakes or were identified by their recent imprint in the morphology. Here, we evaluate the co-seismic character and movement history of the Rauw fault in Belgium, which lacks geomorphological expression and historical/present seismicity. This 55-km-long normal fault, with known Neogene and possibly Early Pleistocene activity, is the largest offset fault west of the active Roer Valley Graben. Its trace was identified in the shallow subsurface based on high resolution geophysics. All the layers within the Late Pliocene Mol Formation (3.6 to 2.59 Ma) are displaced 7 m vertically, without growth faulting, but deeper deposits show increasing offset. A paleoseismic trench study revealed cryoturbated, but unfaulted, late glacial coversands overlying faulted layers of Mol Formation. In-between those deposits, the fault tip was eroded, along with evidence for individual displacement events. Fragmented clay gouge observed in a micromorphology sample of the main fault evidences co-seismic faulting, as opposed to fault creep. Based on optical and electron spin resonance dating and trench stratigraphy, the 7 m combined displacement is bracketed to have occurred between 2.59 Ma and 45 ka. The regional presence of the Sterksel Formation alluvial terrace deposits, limited to the hanging wall of the Rauw fault, indicates a deflection of the Meuse/Rhine confluence (1.0 to 0.5 Ma) by the fault’s activity, suggesting that most of the offset occurred prior to/at this time interval. In the trench, Sterksel Formation is eroded but reworked gravel testifies for its former presence. Hence, the Rauw fault appears as typical of plate interior context, with an episodic seismic activity concentrated between 1.0 and 0.5 Ma or at least between 2.59 Ma to 45 ka, possibly related to activity variations in the adjacent, continuously active Roer Valley Graben.

Keyword(s): Paleoseismology ; Stable continental region ; Rauw fault ; Campine Basin ; Optical dating ; Electron spin resonance dating
DOI: 10.1016/j.tecto.2017.01.023
Links: link; link2
Funding: NIRAS/ONDRAF contracts; European SAFE project EVG1-CT-2000-00023; Belgian Science Ministry Action 1 projects MO/33/006 and MO/33/011

The record appears in these collections:
Royal Observatory of Belgium > Seismology & Gravimetry
Science Articles > Peer Reviewed Articles

 Record created 2017-01-31, last modified 2017-01-31