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Next Earthquake in Northern Burmese Arc-Search for Precursor

Next Earthquake in Northern Burmese Arc-Search for Precursor

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Published by Sujit Dasgupta
Published paper on the seismicity pattern of northern Burmese arc and search for precursors
Published paper on the seismicity pattern of northern Burmese arc and search for precursors

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Published by: Sujit Dasgupta on Dec 01, 2010
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69
Next Impending Earthquake in Northern Burmese Arc- Search for A Probable Precursor
S
UJIT
D
ASGUPTA
, B
ASAB
M
UKHOPADHYAYAND
M
ANOJ
M
UKHOPADHYAY
1
Geological Survey of India, #27, J.L. Nehru Road, Kolkata-700016
1
Department of Geology and Geophysics,King Saud University, P.O. Box 2455, Riyadh-11451, Kingdom of Saudi ArabiaE-mail: mtrondheim@yahoo.co.in
ABSTRACT
Subduction of the Indian plate below the Burmese Arc (BA) up to depths of about200 km in a continental environment presents a unique opportunity to focus onseismogenic behaviour of active tectonic blocks. Northernmost 450 km stretch of BA out-of-its 1100 km total length is seismically most active, where, the Benioff zone dips at 40
°
-45
°
degrees eastward and the Arc itself takes a sinuous bend following the Tripura FoldBelt and the Naga Belt of Schuppen. The continuing subduction is responsible foraccumulation of huge residual strain at lithospheric margins. Character of elastic strainthat is released from time to time from this rather short portion of the plate boundaryand the pattern of recurring major earthquakes provide the basis for the present study.Five major earthquakes occurring here since 1964 (when ISC data became available) are:[17.10.1969 (6.1), 6.8.1988 (6.6), 9.1.1990 (6.1), 5.1.1991 (6.1), and 6.5.1995 (6.3)]. Using these,the seismic quiescence and the corresponding b-values are estimated as precursors, wherean active seismic cycle distinguishes the alternate domains of quiescence (Q
1
, Q
2
and Q
3
)and active seismicity. It is found that prior to the occurrence of 6.8.1988 earthquake (mag.6.6), there are many short and intermediate term precursors (Q
1
, Q
2
and Q
3
), change inseismicity rate and b-value, that are either absent or camouflaged prior to the mainshocksof 9.1.1990 (6.1), 5.1.1991 (6.1) and 6.5.1995 (6.3). Seismicity pattern for last seven years(2002 to June 2008) starts with Q
1
(2002, 13 events/yr, b = 1.45), increase in backgroundseismicity (2003-2004, 30 events/yr, b = 1.45), Q
2
(2005, 19 events/yr, b = 0.86), increase inbackground seismicity (2006-May 21
st
2008, 22.8 events/yr, b = 1.08), and followed by Q
3
for nearly one month up to the end of June 2008. Such Q
3
quiescence should immediatelyfollow a fore - main - aftershock sequence. Typical tectonic set up for north part of BA andits seismic history suggest for the magnitude of the impending event as 6.0 M or greaterthat is likely to be associated with a strike slip fault or a thrust (with appreciable strikeslip). The exact size and timing of the event cannot however be deciphered from theavailable teleseismic data alone; this evidently requires data from local network onactive blocks.
Keywords:
Subduction, Burmese Arc, b-values, Teleseismic data.
MEMOIR GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF INDIANo. 75, 2010, pp. 69 - 80
 
70
INTRODUCTION
The BA is categorized as an intense seismic zone along the Indian platemargin where the ongoing subduction up to depths of about 200 km has producedseveral large earthquakes. A seismogenic area prior to a megathrust event usuallyexhibits precursors of various kinds like: hydrological, geochemical and geophysical.Geophysical precursors such as the changes in seismic source parameters, manifestedseismic quiescence, Accelerating Moment Release (AMR) and changes in the b-valueare taken to forecast an impending event. Further, these precursors can have short tolong time-durations depending on the expected time interval prior to an impendingevent.A precursory phenomenon
 
before the mainshock is regarded as a part ofphysical preparation for the main rupture to follow (Scholz, 2002). This physicalpreparation can exhibit seismic quiescence. At the same time changes in the seismicrate (Ogata, 2003) and high/ low b–values also act as meaningful precursors (Wyssand Martirosyan, 1998; Enescu and Ito, 2001, 2002; Huang et al., 2002; Monterrosoand Kulhánek, 2003; Schorlemmer et al., 2004; Nuannin et al., 2005; Wiemer et al.,2005).Here we study the intermediate term geophysical precursors like: (i) Temporalquiescence, (ii) Seismicity pattern, (iii) Earthquake occurrence rate, (iv) Depthdistribution of the events prior to the main event and (v) the changes in temporal ‘b’values. We look for seismic cycles affecting BA for purposes of quantifying thephysical precursors, following the methodology by Scholz (2002), in order to searchfor a probable precursor having relevance to crustal mega-events in this region ofcontinental subduction.
TECTONIC SETTING AND SEISMICITY IN THE BURMESE ARC
Broad tectonic features of BA have resulted from the northeastward drift ofIndia landmass and its collision with the Shan-block belonging to the Asian landmassby early mid-Eocene. The Burmese ranges thus represent a continuous trench-arcsystem from north to Andaman Arc in the south where the northern part has emergedabove the sea level by the end of the Oligocene (Le Dain et al., 1984). The arc system(~ 1100 km length) has been represented by an east dipping Benioff zone penetratingto about 200 km depth sub-horizontally (Mukhopadhyay and Dasgupta, 1988;Dasgupta et al., 2003) in a continental environment and thus provide an uniqueopportunity to study the active arc system by surface investigations. It is nowcommonly accepted, as was initially proposed by Chhibber (1934), that the Burmesearc and Andaman arc further south together provide an important transitional linkbetween the Himalayan collision zone
 
and the Indonesian arc; the latter is in directtectonic continuation of the Western Pacific arc systems. Northernmost 450 km stretchof BA is seismically most active, where the Benioff zone angle is 40
°
- 45
°
and arcitself takes a sinuous bend following Belt of Schuppen and Tripura Fold Belt innorth and south (Figs. 1a and 1b). This aerially exposed subduction related tectonicpacket (Mukhopadhyay and Dasgupta, 1988) represents a
 forearc
basin (Tripurafold belt) in the west; folded and thrusted
sedimentary arc
with ophiolite mélange; MtPopa – Chindwin –Wuntho
volcanic arc
; and a
back arc
region represented by San-
DASGUPTA AND OTHERS: Next Impending Eartquake in Northern Burmese ... a Probable Precursor 
 
71
Fig. 1a:
The seismotectonic map of Arakan Yoma sector in the Burmese Arc withearthquake data 1964-2008 [Data Source: 1964- 2004(ISC); 2004-2008 (NEIC)].Black stars are historical earthquakes (ABB source, 1897 – 1963) with magnitude(Ms e”7.0). CB – Central Basin, FMB – Fold Mountain Belt, Im – Imphal,Ti – Tiddim, Ga – Gangaw, Sa – Sagaing.
Indo-Myanmar Ranges in the Tectonic Framework of the Himalaya and Southeast Asia

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