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Turkish Journal of Earth Sciences Turkish J Earth Sci

(2014) 23: 16-30
Research Article doi:10.3906/yer-1303-5

Sedimentary record of mid-Miocene seismotectonic activity

in the Sinop Peninsula, north-central Turkey
Ayhan ILGAR*
Department of Geological Research, General Directorate of Mineral Research and Exploration (MTA), Ankara, Turkey

Received: 12.03.2013 Accepted: 24.09.2013 Published Online: 01.01.2014 Printed: 15.01.2014

Abstract: The middle Miocene shallow-marine siliciclastic succession in the Sinop Peninsula, north-central Turkey, bears a well-
preserved sedimentary record of syndepositional deformation associated with the buried escarpment of an oblique-slip dextral reverse
fault and attributed to seismotectonic activity. The deposition occurred in a marginal trough at the edge of a tectonically inverted
retroarc foreland basin of the Central Pontides. The synsedimentary deformation involved contemporaneous shoreface deposits and
their consolidated, weakly cemented littoral substrate. Deformation features include neptunian dykes, convolute stratification, plumose
transposition structure, injection dykes, diapirs, and large sandstone blocks dislodged from the fault escarpment. The genetic sequence
of deformation structures deciphered from the outcrop section indicates 3 main episodes of seismotectonic activity associated with the
fault and separated by renewed sediment accumulation. The first episode formed a surface rupture equal to about a third of the total
minimum vertical displacement, estimated at ~5.5 m, with a detachment of a large sandstone block from the fault scarp. The second
episode is inferred to have involved at least 2 closely consecutive earthquakes, which caused partial liquefaction and fluidization of
footwall sediment. The last episode of fault activity caused detachment of an even larger sandstone block and was followed by abrupt
basin subsidence, possibly accompanied by a minor tsunami. The seismotectonic events postdated the Pontide orogen and are considered
to represent an early phase of neotectonic activity in the north-central Turkey, heralding the development of the North Anatolian Fault
Zone. Similar deformation features associated with fault escarpments are potentially common in the stratigraphic record, but may have
been lumped with fault breccias or talus deposits and escaped recognition. The study offers detailed sedimentological criteria for the
recognition of syndepositional seismotectonic activity.

Key words: Northern Anatolia, Central Pontides, marginal trough, fault, synsedimentary deformation, neotectonics

1. Introduction 1995; Altnok and Ersoy, 2000; Ambraseys, 2001; Tan et

The Anatolian block of Turkey, after its tectonic assembling al., 2008), from surface ruptures and shallow excavations
through the collision of the Pontides with the Anatolide- (Ambraseys and Jackson, 1998; Awata et al., 1999; Barka et
Tauride platform of the East Mediterranean Alpine al., 2000; Witter et al., 2000; Bouchon et al., 2002; Kondo
orogeny, soon became subject to a westward tectonic et al., 2005; zaksoy et al., 2010), from high-resolution
escape (structural strike-slip expulsion) driven by the shallow seismic-reflection imagery (Parke et al., 1999;
northward movement of the Arabian plate accommodated Kuu et al., 2002) and radar interferometry (Wright et al.,
by the sinistral East Anatolian and dextral North 2001), and from abrupt local paleogeographical changes
Anatolian fault zones (Figure 1A; McKenzie, 1972; Dewey (Ryan et al., 1997; Leroy et al., 2002; zaksoy et al., 2010).
and engr, 1979; engr et al., 1985; Flerit et al., 2004). Little geological documentation exists of the earlier, pre-
This postorogenic neotectonic regime is thought to have Holocene neotectonic activity and its onset in Anatolia
commenced in the middle Miocene, around 12 Ma BP (Poisson et al., 2003; Ko Tagn, 2011; Ko Tagn et al.,
(Barka and Hancock, 1984; engr et al., 1985), rendering 2011), most probably because of the negligible preservation
Anatolia one of the most seismically active regions of the potential of a surface record of older seismotectonic events.
Eurasian continent notorious for its numerous and often The present study from a middle Miocene shallow-
disastrous earthquakes (Dewey, 1976; arolu et al., 1992). marine siliciclastic succession in the Sinop Peninsula,
The Recent fault activity and seismicity in Anatolia are north-central Turkey (Figure 1B), is the first documentation
well-document from the historical record of catastrophic of a syndepositional seismic fault activity that can be
earthquakes and tsunami events (Ambraseys and Finkel, attributed to the early onset phase of neotectonics in
* Correspondence:
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alluvium nceburun BLACK SEA B
Pliocene- Sarkum Fm. 0 3 km
Pleistocene sandstones
middle Miocene
Konkian - Gelincik Fm.
Bessarabian sandstones & conglomerates
Unconformity Akliman
middle Miocene Sinop Fm.
Tarkhanian - mudstones, sandstones,
Tshokrakian fossiliferous limestones
middle Eocene Kusuri Fm. Sarkum SNOP
mudstones, sandstones, Lake
fossiliferous limestones Gelincik
Paleocene- Atba Fm.
early Eocene mudstones & calcarenites
Maastrichtian- Akveren Fm.
Paleocene calcarenites & marls
Unconformity Study
Hamsaros Fm.
lava-flow basalts, area
dykes & pyroclastics





Figure 1. A) Tectonic map of Anatolia, showing the Pontide and Tauride orogenic belts enveloping the Krehir and Menderes crystalline massifs
(simplified from Leren et al., 2007); note the neotectonic pattern of strike-slip deformation along the East Anatolian (EAF) and North Anatolian (NAF)
fault zones driving the westward tectonic escape of the Anatolian craton. B) Geological map of the Sinop Peninsula, showing the tectonically-inverted
foreland basin of Central Pontides to the south and the associated marginal trough to the North (modified from Gedik and Korkmaz, 1984). The troughs
southern margin is approximated by the Balfak thrust, whereas the northern, outer margin corresponds to the belt of Cenomanian volcanics. Note the
location of the study area in the NE part of the Sinop Peninsula.

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northern Anatolia. The synsedimentary deformation 3. Basin-fill stratigraphy

described from the Sinop outcrop section was associated Sedimentation in the Sinop marginal trough commenced
with the subaqueous escarpment of an active, oblique- with the deposition of the shallow-marine Sinop
slip reverse fault and involved both contemporaneous Formation (Figure 1B; Gedik and Korkmaz, 1984),
nearshore sediments and their consolidated shallow- composed of mudstones, sandstones, and minor fine-
marine substrate. Similar features related to underwater grained conglomerates. The lower part of the formation
or terrestrial fault escarpments may be common in the consists of dark gray, nonfossiliferous mudstones
stratigraphic record of Anatolia and other tectonically intercalated with thin sandstone sheets (Figure 2A). These
active regions, but may have been lumped with deposits pass upwards into a heterolithic facies composed
postdepositional fault breccias or talus deposits and their of fine-grained sandstones with mudstone interlayers and
significance may have escaped recognition. The present with wavy to lenticular bedding (Figure 2B). Molluscan
study thus also contributes to the sedimentological criteria fauna at the transition of the mudstone to heterolithic
for the deciphering of ancient seismotectonic events from facies indicates a Tarkhanian/Tshokrakian (early middle
the stratigraphic record. Miocene) age of the deposits. The proportion of sand
increases upwards and slightly varies (Figure 2C), until
2. Geological setting fossiliferous sandstones predominate, intercalated
The Neogene basin in north-central Turkey formed as a with thin erosional layers of granule and fine-pebble
marginal trough at the northern edge of the tectonically conglomerate. Interbeds of fossiliferous stromatolitic
inverted, ESE-trending foreland basin of the Central and/or oolitic limestone (Figure 2D) also occur locally
Pontides (Figure 1A). The retroarc foreland basin evolved in the upper part. Primary sedimentary structures in
from a failed Late Cretaceous rift (Leren et al., 2007). sandstones include wave-ripple cross-lamination (Figure
The marginal trough, paralleling the folded and thrust- 2E), hummocky and planar parallel stratification (Figure
deformed foreland, is presently exposed only in the Sinop
2F), and bidirectional planar cross-stratification. A local
Peninsula (Figure 1B). The Neogene siliciclastic succession
occurrence of granule-rich fossiliferous sandstones shows
represents the southern reaches of Eastern Paratethys
lateral accretion cross-stratification (Figure 2G), attributed
(Grr et al., 2000) and rests unconformably on the
to an isolated paleochannel.
preorogenic Late JurassicEarly Cretaceous carbonate
The sedimentary facies succession of the Sinop
platform and Cenomanian volcanic rocks, whereas to
Formation indicates a gradual upward shallowing with
the south, it overlies partly the youngest, middle Eocene
minor sea-level fluctuations and with the environment
deposits of the deformed foreland basin (Figure 1B). The
evolving from a mud-dominated offshore transition zone
Neogene basin is structurally bounded by Balfak thrust to
the south. Thrusting of the Paleoceneearly Eocene Atba into a heterolithic lagoonal tidal flat by the beginning of
Formation over the middle Eocene Kusuri Formation on middle Miocene. Barrier facies are unexposed, but the
the NW part of the Balfak thrust (Figure 1B) reflects coarse-grained lateral-accretion unit probably represents
the post-middle Eocene activity of the fault. This activity a migrating tidal inlet channel extended over the lagoon.
continued up to the early Miocene and caused the uplift of The sedimentary environment evolved further into a wave-
the region. dominated sandy shoreface, with a gradual encroachment
The formation of marginal troughs is known to be of a seaward-prograding gravelly foreshore zone.
associated with rift basins tectonically inverted into The normal (progradational) marine regression was
fold belts (e.g., see the Polish-Danish Anticlinorium in then interrupted a strong sea-level fall at the Tshokrakian/
Poaryski and Brochwicz-Lewiski, 1978; Ziegler, 1990, Karaganian transition, when a forced regression occurred
fig. 71). The early Miocene development of the Sinop and the basin was emerged. Incised fluvial valleys formed,
marginal trough was due to the uplift and gravitational more than 120 m deep, and were subsequently filled with
foundering of the Pontide orogen caused by crustal marine to deltaic deposits as the sea level began to rise in
thickening (see Seyitolu and Scott, 1991, 1996; Ylmaz et the Konkian time. The transgressive Gelincik Formation
al., 1997), which reactivated the foreland Balfak thrust (Figure 1B) consists of foreshore to shoreface deposits with
(Figure 1B) and resulted in crustal downwarping along associated shoal-water and Gilbert-type deltas, recording
the orogen margin. The resulting synclinal basin initially a gradual rise in sea level followed by highstand. This
hosted a neritic marine environment, but underwent rapid record of sea-level changes in the basin clearly postdates
shallowing as the subsidence ceased by the end of early the orogeny and corresponds to the Paratethyan eustatic
Miocene. Littoral sedimentation prevailed in the middle history (Harzhauser and Piller, 2004).
Miocene, when the abandoned marginal trough eventually The basin was then tectonically uplifted in the late
became affected by transpressional tectonic deformation Miocene, with the basin-fill succession presently exposed
(see Barka and Hancock, 1984; engr et al., 1985). at up to 130 m above sea level. The Plio-Pleistocene

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10 cm
Figure 2. Sedimentary facies of the Sinop Formation. A) Dark gray offshore-transition mudstone interspersed with thin sandstone sheets. B) Thin
lenticular sandstone beds intercalated with mudstones of a lagoonal tidal-flat succession. C) Planar parallel-stratified, fine- to coarse-grained shoreface
sandstones with subordinate wave-ripple cross-lamination, intercalated with silty mudstone layers. D) Fossiliferous oolitic limestone interbed in the
upper part of the formation. E) Close-up view of wave ripple forms in fine-grained, cross-laminated shoreface sandstone. F) Fossiliferous, granule-rich,
planar parallel-stratified foreshore sandstone. G) Fossiliferous, granule-rich sandstone with laterally accreted cross-strata, interpreted as a point bar of
tidal inlet channel.

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aeolian deposits of the Sarkum Formation (Figure 1B) sandstone unit, with the deformation zone thinning from
unconformably overlie the Sinop and Gelincik formations, 135 cm to less than 50 cm with distance from the fault
smoothing out the post-Miocene paleotopography. (Figure 3). The large isolated blocks of stratified sandstone,
up to 3.5 m in length, consist of similar shoreface deposits
4. Outcrop evidence of synsedimentary deformation as those in the lower hanging wall, but show steep to
4.1. Description and interpretation of deposits vertical internal parallel stratification and have apparently
The evidence of synsedimentary deformation, attributed to been dislodged from the fault escarpment. The lower
seismotectonic activity, has been found in the upper, sandy block (first block in Figure 3), after its emplacement, was
part of the shallow-marine Sinop Formation exposed in a buried by fine- to medium-grained sand, but initially shed
roadcut section on the eastern side of the Sinop Peninsula some smaller fragments and accumulated massive sand
(see study area in Figure 1B). The EW roadcut section on its lower flanks. The surrounding sandstone shows
is 4.5 m high and 35 m long (Figure 3). An oblique-slip planar parallel stratification and sporadic wave ripples on
reverse fault formed in, and buried by, sandy shoreface bedding planes in its lowest part, 5075 cm thick, but is
deposits divides the outcrop section into a hanging-wall increasingly fossiliferous and dominated by hummocky
part to the left and a footwall part to the right. The fault- cross-stratification in the upper part, 70125 cm thick.
plane dip azimuth and angle are 105/65. Striations on the This lower sandstone unit has an uneven upper boundary
fault plane indicate a reverse fault with dextral strike-slip overlain by stratified medium-grained sandstone on which
component (Figure 3). the second large block is resting (second block in Figure
4.1.1. The hanging-wall part 3). The sandstone planar parallel strata are deformed both
The hanging-wall part of the fault structure in its lower below the block and on its sides, with small convolutions
part (Figure 3, lower left) consists of alternating very fine- and diapiric folds (Figures 3 and 4). Notably, this middle
grained sandstone and subordinate siltstone beds showing sandstone unit lacks deformation farther away from the
planar parallel stratification and minor wave-ripple cross- fault and overlies sharply the deformed lower sandstone
lamination. The deposits also show open fissures filled unit (Figure 3, right-hand part), which means that the
with angular fragments of similar rock and a poorly sorted second block was emplaced considerably later, after a
matrix of fine to coarse sand. Directly above, the deposits significant episode of sedimentation. This block and the
show intense brecciation into small angular blocks middle sandstone unit disturbed by its emplacement
surrounded by a similar, relatively coarse sand matrix. are overlain unconformably, with slight erosional
The brecciated sandstone is unconformably overlain by an truncation, by an upper unit of parallel-stratified, very
upper unit of nondeformed, very fine-grained sandstone fine-grained sandstone alternating with siltstone layers.
alternating with siltstone layers (Figure 3, upper left). The As in the underlying units, the seafloor-draping parallel
sediment is similarly well-sorted, forming tabular layers stratification is not perfectly planar, apparently adjusted
110 cm thick, with mainly planar parallel stratification to the preexisting local relief and also bent slightly by
and minor wave-ripple cross-lamination (ripple cross-sets compaction.
of 0.5 cm thick). The characteristics of the lower sandstone unit, ~2.5
There is no evidence of unidirectional paleocurrent m thick, differ from those of the hanging-wall sandstone
in the lower and upper unit, and the stratification types and suggest deposition in an upper shoreface environment
indicate a perennial action of waves with near-bottom (Clifton, 1976, 1981; Bourgeois, 1980; Walker and Plint,
orbital velocities of mainly 0.5 m s1 (see Allen, 1982, 1992; Ainsworth and Crowley, 1994). Wave near-bottom
figs. 1119). For the available grain-size range, the near- orbital velocities were 0.7 m s1, often >0.9 m s1 (Allen,
bottom oscillatory currents were apparently too strong to 1982, fig. 1119), and the occurrence of hummocky
allow common formation of wave ripples, whereby plane- stratification indicates episodic storm-generated
bed configuration predominated. Perennial wave action combined flow (Dott and Bourgeois, 1982; Brenchley,
implies deposition above a fair-weather wave base. The fine 1985; Duke et al., 1991; Brenchley et al., 1993; Cheel and
grain sizes and scarcity of recognizable erosional surfaces Leckie, 1993). The upper sandstone unit, which onlapped
suggest deposition in a middle shoreface environment, at and fully buried the fault escarpment (Figure 3), shows
the transition of lower to upper shoreface zone (Goldring planar parallel stratification and minor wave-ripple cross-
and Bridges, 1973; Clifton, 1976, 1981; Walker and Plint, lamination and is attributed to deposition in a middle
1992; Ainsworth and Crowley, 1994). shoreface environment.
4.1.2. Footwall part 4.2. Deformation features
The footwall part of the fault structure shows a considerably 4.2.1. Neptunian dykes
greater degree of deformation (Figure 3, lower right). Structures interpreted to be neptunian dykes occur in
The deformation is strongest near the top of the lower the mid-shoreface sandstone of the fault hanging wall



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neptunian dykes

Figure 4

2nd block

hanging wall
1st block

Structural data 0
of the fault plane oblique-reverse fault footwall silt sand

Figure 3. The studied outcrop section and overlay drawing, showing the deformation features and vertical facies changes (log). Note the inset frame indicating the
close-up detail shown in Figure 4.

ILGAR / Turkish J Earth Sci

Diapir structure
2nd block

Plumose pattern


Fault plane

1st block

Figure 4. Close-up detail of the outcrop part indicated in Figure 3 (see inset frame), with an overlay drawing to enhance visibility
of the observed pattern of stratification and deformation.

(Figure 3, left). On the basis of their extent and sediment represent sediment-filled open fissures rather than small
infill, 2 types of dykes can be distinguished. One type is faults. The angular geometry of dykes implies host-rock
represented by the deep vertical dyke that extends from brittle dilation, attributable to relaxation of the fault scarp.
the base of the brecciated top part of the hanging wall The dyke parabreccia component was formed by a brittle
to a depth of at least 3 m (Figure 3, left) and is probably disintegration of the fissure sidewalls. The sandstone
longer in strike-parallel lateral extent. This fissure is filled fragments show no evidence of weathering or dissolution,
with angular fragments of the fine-grained host sandstone, and their sharp edges suggest that the sand was well-
mainly 1545 cm in size, and an interstitial matrix of compacted and perhaps slightly cemented prior to its
fine- to coarse-grained sand. The medium to coarse sand rupture (see Cozzi, 2000).
component of the matrix resembles texturally the upper The sedimentary infill of open fractures and cavities in
shoreface sandstone of the fault footwall, rather than the seabed, referred to as neptunian dykes, consists of sediment
host hanging-wall rock. The other dyke type comprises derived from the sidewalls and from above (Winterer and
relatively small fissures that form short wedges inclined at Sarti, 1994; Cozzi, 2000; rne et al., 2007). The origin of
a high angle to the large dyke (Figure 3, left). These dykes neptunian dykes is widely attributed to seismic activity
are 745 cm in width and 50150 cm in down-dip extent. (Playford, 1980; Winterer and Bosellini, 1981; Lehner,
The fissure-fill is mainly fine to coarse sand, with minor 1991; Montenat et al., 1991; Cozzi, 2000), although similar
parabreccias (sensu Spalleta and Vai, 1984) composed of features have also been reported from the surfaces of
host sandstone angular fragments of 10 cm in size. submarine slides (Winterer et al., 1991; Winterer and
Neither the large nor the smaller dykes show any offset Sarti, 1994). The formation of open fissures is related to
of the host rock (Figure 3, left), which means that they extension in cohesive or consolidated sediment (Moretti

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and Sabato, 2007), caused by such factors as a surficial and load structures caused by unstable sediment-density
stretching associated with the strain relaxation of fault gradient (see Duyski and Walton, 1965; Collinson et al.,
scarps, slide extension gashes, diapir rising, or overloading 2006), resulting in a varied direction of transposition.
(Montenat et al., 2007). Only this first factor is relevant in 4.2.4. Injection dykes
the present case, as the others can be precluded. At least one major injection dyke and a couple of minor
4.2.2. Convolute stratification ones, possibly its branches, are recognizable in the faults
Convolute stratification occurs in the fine- to medium- hanging wall (Figure 4). In contrast to neptunian dykes,
grained sandstones of the fault footwall (Figures 3 and these features extend obliquely upwards from the fault
4). The convolutions consist of disorderly anticlines and plane, wedge out blindly, and have apparently drained a
synclines, 1035 cm in amplitude and 525 cm in width. mixture of fine- to coarse-grained liquefied sand from
Fold axial planes vary from vertical to subhorizontal and the zone of convolution and plumose deformation in the
lack preferential orientation. The fold size decreases as faults footwall. The main dyke is 525 cm wide and its dip-
the intensity of folding increases upwards, and the higher parallel extent from the fault plane is ~90 cm.
convolutions are commonly disharmonic with respect to The emplacement of injection dykes is generally
the lower ones. The convolutions show a gradual transition attributed to sediment fluidization combined with
to the underlying nondeformed parallel stratification, hydraulic fracturing (Montenat et al., 1991) These features
whereas their upward transition to a diffuse plumose are common in synsedimentary deformation horizons
structure above is relatively abrupt, although the contact interpreted as seismites (e.g., Hesse and Reading, 1978;
itself is highly irregular and digitated (Figure 4). The Seilacher, 1984).
gradational lower contact and the chaotic orientation of 4.2.5. Diapiric features
fold axial planes indicate an in situ deformation rather than Small diapirs are associated with the edges of the upper
a slump. The intensity of convolutions and the thickness of large sandstone block (second block in Figures 3 and 4),
convoluted zone decrease away from the fault (Figure 3). which was apparently dislodged from the fault escarpment.
The formation of convolute stratification is widely These features are tight, shallowly protrusive folds of the
attributed to a hydroplastic deformation of nonconsolidated underlying medium-grained sand, no more than 1015
sediment in a state of moderate or partial liquefaction cm wide, with a penetration height of 2030 cm. Their
(Lowe, 1975; Allen, 1986; Jones and Omoto, 2000; Rossetti internal stratification is preserved, but tightly folded
and Goes, 2000; McLaughlin and Brett, 2004; Neuwerth in accordance with the diapir shape. The deformation
et al., 2006; Montenat et al., 2007). Despite the apparent decreases towards the diapir root zone, where the folded
geometrical complexity of convolution structures, the strata pass into undisturbed ones.
deformation is most commonly driven by unidirectional The diapirs are synsedimentary deformation features
stress, whether due to a seismic shaking or to gravity that, in the present case, may have been caused by the
(Collinson, 1994). impact shock of the fallen sand block or by its subsequent
4.2.3. Plumose structure shaking.
A diffuse and mainly amorphous plumose structure occurs
in the footwall of the fault, at the transition from the 5. Discussion
strongly convoluted fine/medium-grained sandstone to 5.1. Trigger mechanism of synsedimentary deformation
the overlying coarse-grained massive sandstone (Figures The synsedimentary deformation structures owe
3 and 4). As in Matsudas (2000) description of similar their origin to the formation of open fissures in well-
features, the structure shows an interweaving of sediment compacted, consolidated shoreface sand exposed in the
from the upper and lower layers and consists of concave- fault hanging wall and to the process of sand liquidization
upwards diffuse flow bands between the downwards- (i.e. liquefaction or fluidization; sensu Allen, 1982) in the
sagged pockets of the upper, heavier sand. The resulting footwall. Liquidization increases pore-water pressure,
interdigitation of sediment layers reaches up to 40 cm in breaks down the grain-supported sand framework, and
amplitude (Figure 4), and the complexity of the plumose causes a dramatic decrease of the sand shear strength,
structure increases towards the fault (Figure 3). which effectively renders the sand mobile (Allen and Banks,
The formation of plumose structures requires the 1972; Youd, 1973; Allen, 1982; Owen, 1987). This process
applied shear stress to overcome the frictional shear is the main agent for the development of hydroplastic
strength of the deposit, which normally happens due deformation structures in water-saturated cohesionless
to an increase of pore-water pressure that leads to sediments (Lowe, 1975; Allen, 1986; Collinson, 1994;
liquefaction or fluidization (Elliot, 1965; Matsuda, 2000). Rossetti, 1999; Jones and Omoto, 2000; McLaughlin and
This pattern of sediment transposition may be regarded Brett, 2004; Neuwerth et al., 2006; Montenat et al., 2007;
as a combination of dish structures formed by dewatering Moretti and Sabato, 2007). The triggering factor may be an

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overloading or differential loading, gravitational slumping, deformation to be diagnostic of seismic events: 1) the
seismic shaking, groundwater movement, cyclic and/or vertical narrowness and considerable lateral extent
impulsive effect of storm wave loading, shear stress of an (synchronicity) of deformation zones; 2) a systematic
overriding current, or possibly an abrupt change in relative lateral decrease in the deformation zone thickness and
sea level or ground-water level (Jones, 1972; Lowe, 1975; intensity; and 3) the evidence of sediment liquefaction
Allen, 1982; Glennie and Buller, 1983; Mills, 1983; Owen, or fluidization with minor horizontal transposition of
1987; Molina et al., 1998; Moretti, 2000). sediment, implying in situ deformation. Rossetti and
A seismic trigger is the most likely factor in association Ges (2000) emphasized the diagnostic significant of
with a fault rupture, especially if alternative nonseismic deformation horizons separated by nondeformed sediment
causes can be precluded (Moretti, 2000). The deformed zones. All these criteria are met in the present case.
shoreface sandstones in the footwall part of the fault Obermeier et al. (2002) argued that if strong seismic
structure (Figure 3, right) were deposited by waves shaking occurs in a sedimentary basin, liquefaction
combined with storm-generated currents, and hence the features should inevitably be formed. Earthquake-induced
origin of the convolute stratification and plumose structure stresses cause a back-and-forth shear strain, which
cannot be attributed to a rapid emplacement of sediment increases pore-water pressure, results in a loss of sediment
or an unstable, reversed sediment density gradient. The shear strength, and causes deformation (Youd, 1973; Allen,
gradual transition of these deformation features to the 1977; Obermeier, 1996).
underlying nondeformed horizontal parallel stratification, Many studies have focused on earthquake-induced
the disorderly orientation of convolutions, and the lack of soft-sediment deformation in an attempt to make
lateral displacement indicate an in situ deformation and inferences about the magnitude, epicenter location, and
preclude both gravitational slumping and basal shear stress frequency of past earthquakes (Sims, 1975; Talwani and
of an overriding current (see Collinson, 1994). There is no Cox, 1985; Allen, 1986; Anand and Jain, 1987; Obermeier,
facies evidence of an abrupt major change in relative sea 1996; Vanneste et al., 1999; Matsuda, 2000; Rodrguez-
level and no sign of sediment disturbance by bioturbation, Pascua et al., 2000; Obermeier et al., 2002; Singh and Jain,
and also rapid groundwater movements are unlikely to 2007). It has been argued that, for ground liquefaction to
have occurred in a littoral environment. be triggered, the earthquake magnitude should be at least
Substrate deformation can be triggered by the impact of Mw 5, because weaker earthquakes lack sufficient strength
a collapsing sand block, but the emplacement of the second and duration (Audemard and De Santis, 1991). Marco and
large block in the outcrop section (Figure 3) apparently Agnon (1995) suggested that seismic ground-level fault
caused only shallow deformation directly beneath the ruptures develop with earthquake magnitudes of Mw
block and at its edges. The blocks impact cannot explain 5.5.
the deeper zone of more extensive deformation, covered 5.2. Chronology of seismotectonic events
by little deformed to nondeformed sand (Figure 3). The Three distinct episodes of syndepositional seismotectonic
thickness of the deformation zone increases towards activity can be recognized in the outcrop section on the
the fault, which suggests a genetic link with the latter. basis of the stratigraphic succession of deformation
Therefore, the laterally extensive deformation of seafloor features separated by renewed sediment deposition (Figure
sediment and the collapses of sand blocks from the fault 3). They are reconstructed hypothetically in Figure 5 and
escarpment are thought to have been triggered by seismic are discussed below.
shocks. 5.2.1. Episode 1
It is worth noting that the deformation structures The first episode of syndepositional deformation involved
described here are similar to those reproduced the formation of an oblique-slip reverse fault (Figure 5A).
experimentally by Kuenen (1958) and Sims (1975) in The reverse fault lifted up well-compacted and possibly
laboratory simulations of seismic shaking. Earthquake- weakly cemented mid-shoreface deposits of the hanging
produced ground fissures and liquefaction phenomena, wall above the seafloor level and contemporaneous upper-
from distinct horizons of load structures and convolutions shoreface deposits of the footwall. Brittle deformation
to sand dykes, have long been recognized as seismites occurred along the fault plane and a subaqueous
(Seilacher, 1969, 1984) and used to identify ancient topographic escarpment was formed, with soft sediment
earthquakes (e.g., Talwani and Cox, 1985; Allen, 1986; stripped by waves from the hanging wall. Stress relaxation
Anand and Jain, 1987; Obermeier, 1996; Vanneste et in the uplifted hanging wall caused its brittle disintegration,
al., 1999; Matsuda, 2000; Rodrguez-Pascua et al., 2000; whereby penetrative open fissures developed and were
Obermeier et al., 2002; Singh and Jain, 2007). Apart from filled in with wave-washed sand, forming neptunian dykes,
the similarity to experimental structures, Matsuda (2000) while also the first large sandstone block fell off from the
considered the following aspects of synsedimentary fault escarpment (Figure 5B). The sandy matrix of the

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Upper shoreface sand underlain by

consolidated mid-shoreface facies

Oblique-slip reverse
fault forms

Brecciation and winnowing
Erosion and brecciation by waves by waves

falls Depositional cover

Substrate deformed by impact

Erosion and increased

brecciation Erosion by waves

Liquefaction and in situ Erosional cover

seafloor deformation


topples over Depositional cover

Fault buried
Substrate deformed
by impact

1.5 m

Abrupt subsidence

Figure 5. Cartoon reconstruction of the time series of mid-Miocene seismotectonic and sedimentation events recognized in the outcrop section (Figure
3). A) A reverse fault rupture forms at seafloor in medium- to coarse-grained sand of an upper shoreface environment. B) The fault escarpment reaches
~2 m in amplitude, with erosion and fracturing of the hanging wall and a large sandstone block dislodged from the fault scarp. C) The fallen block
is buried by upper-shoreface sand, with little or no accumulation on the hanging wall. D) The second episode of seismotectonic activity, with partial
liquidization and strong deformation of footwall sediment. E) An erosional covering of the deformed sediment by upper-shoreface sand. F) The third
episode of seismotectonic activity, with another large sandstone block dislodged from the fault scarp. G) The seafloor rapidly subsides and fine-grained
mid-shoreface sand gradually buries the fault escarpment; the fault becomes extinct.

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neptunian dyke parabreccias is texturally similar to coeval The bulk amplitude of vertical displacement associated
upper-shoreface sand, coarser than the host sandstone, with this second seismotectonic event probably did not
which supports the notion of a contemporaneous exceed ~1.5 m (see further inferences below). Although
derivation by wave action. sediment liquidization might suggest an earthquake
The development of neptunian dykes signifies magnitude of Mw 5 (Audemard and De Santis, 1991;
extensional strain and is typically associated with normal Marco and Agnon, 1995), the actual magnitude could
faults (Montenat et al., 1991; Cozzi, 2000). The hanging wall be lower, as the ground deformation seems to have been
in the present case was likely fractured due to its internal limited to the faults close neighborhood.
relaxation stresses (Montenat et al., 2007). Shock-induced 5.2.3. Episode 3
dilation would likely contribute to the fracturing, as the Sediment accumulation resumed on the footwall and the
formation of ground rupture may suggest an earthquake deformed substrate was unconformably covered with a
magnitude of Mw 5.5 (Marco and Agnon, 1995). The wave-worked, planar parallel-stratified upper-shoreface
amplitude of vertical seafloor displacement by the fault at
sand (Figure 5E). This depositional unit is 0.70 m thick
this first stage is uncertain, estimated as at least ~2 m on
near the fault and thins to 0.25 m away from it (Figure
account of the exposure of consolidated substrate in the
3), which reflects mainly the footwall postdeformational
hanging wall and the size of the first block detached from
topography. Another episode of the fault activity then
the escarpment.
occurred and the second large sand block collapsed from
5.2.2. Episode 2 the fault scarp (Figure 5F). The blocks impact deformed
The first stage of deformation was followed by continued the substrate directly beneath it, forming small shallow
sand accumulation in upper-shoreface regime in the convolutions and diapiric features. On the account of the
accommodation space provided by the fault footwall, fallen blocks size, the hanging wall is estimated to have
whereas little or no deposition occurred on the wave- been elevated by an additional ~2 m and subsequently
swept elevated hanging wall. Sand draped and buried the eroded to a depth of ~4 m before eventually becoming
first collapsed block (Figure 5C). The action of fair-weather draped with sediment. A minor tsunami generated by
and storm waves accumulated over 2 m of stratified sand the basins northern-margin fault (Figure 1B) may have
before a second episode of seismotectonic deformation possibly contributed to the rapid erosion, as the basin
occurred, convoluting the strata and resulting in a concurrently underwent an abrupt subsidence and relative
plumose liquefaction structure with associated injection sea-level rise (see facies change in the log in Figure 3).
dykes (Figure 5D). It is uncertain if the hanging wall
The rise in relative sea level instigated sediment
accumulated sand, but its further fracturing probably
deposition, also in the hanging wall, whereby the fine-
occurred. The hydroplastically deformed sediment was
grained mid-shoreface sand draped and eventually buried
then slightly truncated by waves, probably smoothing the
the fault escarpment (Figure 5G). The fault became extinct,
deformation relief, and was overlain by parallel-stratified
as the sand cover lacks deformation (Figure 3). The total
sand (Figure 5E).
vertical displacement on the fault is estimated at ~5.5
The thickness of the hydroplastic deformation zone
m, since the footwall accommodated ~2 m of shoreface
decreases rapidly with distance from the fault (Figure 3),
sand between the fall of the first and the second block,
which suggests a ground-roll shock wave propagating
whereas the size of the latter block (Figure 3) indicates
away from the fault. The fault movement may have been
dislodgement from a scarp of at least 3.5 m high.
incremental, with multiple shocks, since the multilobate
geometry of convolutions (Figure 3) suggests that the 5.3. Evaluation of the possible cause of the reverse fault
strata were liquefied at least twice (Bhattacharya and The formation of the Karasu anticline (Figure 1B) in
Bandyopadhyay, 1998). Allen (1982) and Tuttle and Seeber relation with the mid-Miocene activity of the Balfak
(1991) reported on the occurrence of superimposed reverse fault and the structural data of Yldrm et al.
or cross-cutting liquefaction structures as indicative of (2011) from Neogene marine deposits show NNESSW
multiple, closely-successive seismic events. One such shortening in the Sinop Peninsula. However, the dip
superposition reportedly common in seismites (Matsuda, azimuth of the studied reverse-fault (105/65) suggesting
2000) is the outward development of convolutions into NWSE compressional deformation is not compatible
a plumose structure with homogenized sand crown, with this stress distribution of the region. The structural,
indicative of stepwise liquefaction. Accordingly, this morphometric, and plate kinematic analyses recently
deformation episode is inferred to have involved at least 2 carried out in the region by Yldrm et al. (2011) document
successive seismic events that followed shortly each other. the fundamental influence of the North Anatolian Fault
The deformation included the injection of sand dykes (NAF) on the evolution of the Central Pontides (CP) and
into the hanging wall (Figure 4), which implies some show that the transpressional deformation that is related
accompanying fluidization. to the NAF is distributed in the CP and extends to the

ILGAR / Turkish J Earth Sci

abyssal plain of the Black Sea. The NAF is the main driving structures deciphered from the outcrop section indicates
mechanism for wedge tectonics and uplift in the CP and 3 main episodes of seismotectonic activity separated by
the onset of the dextral crustal shearing along the NAF renewed sediment accumulation. The first episode formed
controlled the tectonic inversion and NWSE contractional a surface rupture, about a third of the total amplitude of
deformation of CP Neogene basins (Andrieux et al., 1995; vertical fault displacement (estimated at ~5.5 m), and
Yldrm et al., 2011). Barka (1992) also pointed out that dislodged a sandstone block from the fault scarp. The
a wide dextral shear zone developed before the initiation second episode is inferred to have involved at least 2
of the NAF in the region, which caused NESW directed consecutive earthquakes, causing liquidization of footwall
compressional structures including thrusts, reverse faults, sediment. The last episode of fault activity detached
and folds. Thus, the oblique-slip reverse fault may be another large sandstone block from the escarpment and
attributed to the mid-Miocene activity of the dextral shear was followed directly by abrupt basin subsidence, possibly
zone in the region, preceding full-scale development of the accompanied by a minor tsunami. This study contributes
North Anatolian Fault Zone (see Barka and Hancock, 1984; to sedimentological research concerned with the
engr et al., 1985; Andrieux et al., 1995). deciphering of paleoseismic events from the stratigraphic
The shallow-marine, neritic to littoral Miocene deposits record. Subaqueous features similar to those described
in the Sinop Peninsula were deposited in a marginal trough in the present paper could potentially be common in
developed at the edge of a tectonically inverted foreland basin association with ancient fault escarpments in tectonically
of the Central Pontides. The development of the marginal active basins, but may have escaped recognition by being
trough and its sedimentation history indicate a transition lumped with fault breccias or talus deposits.
from postorogenic rebound tectonics to the regional
neotectonic regime in northern Anatolia. The middle Acknowledgments
Miocene shoreface deposits of the Sinop Formation show The field study was funded by the General Directorate
a well-preserved sedimentary record of syndepositional of Mineral Research and Exploration (MTA). Field
deformation associated with the escarpment of an oblique- assistance by Erhan Karaku and H Aysel Esatolu and
slip dextral reverse fault and attributed to seismotectonic helpful discussions with T kr Yurtsever, Okan Tysz,
events in the basin. The events are thought to represent the Oktay Parlak, Fatma Belindir, Hakan Nefesliolu, and
early phase of neotectonics in the region. The deformation mer Emre are greatly appreciated. Special thanks go to
features include neptunian dykes, convolute stratification, Massimo Moretti, Wojciech Nemec, Brian Pratt, and Halil
plumose transposition structure, injection dykes, diapirs, Yusufolu for a critical reading of the original manuscript.
and large sandstone blocks dislodged from the fault Timur Ustamer, M Cihat Aliek, and 2 anonymous
escarpment. The stratigraphic order of deformation referees are much appreciated.

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