On 2008 October 5, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck the eastern termination of the intermontane Alai valley between the southern Tien Shan and the northern Pamir of Kyrgyzstan. The shallow thrust earthquake occurred in the footwall of the Main Pamir thrust, where the Pamir orogen is colliding with the southern Tien Shan mountains. We measure the coseismic surface displacements using SAR (Synthetic Aperture RADAR) data; the results show clear gradients in the vertical and horizontal directions along a complex pattern of surface ruptures and active faults. To integrate and to interpret these observations in the context of the regional tectonics, we complement the SAR data analysis with seismological data and geological field observations. While the main moment release of the Nura earthquake appears to be on the Pamir Frontal thrust, the main surface displacements and surface rupture occurred in the footwall along the NE–SW striking Irkeshtam fault. With InSAR data from ascending and descending tracks along with pixel offset measurements, we model the Nura earthquake source as a segmented rupture. One fault segment corresponds to high-angle brittle faulting at the Pamir Frontal thrust and two more fault segments show moderate-angle and low-friction thrusting at the Irkeshtam fault. Our integrated analysis of the coseismic deformation argues for rupture segmentation and strain partitioning associated to the earthquake. It possibly activated an orogenic wedge in the easternmost segment of the Pamir-Alai collision zone. Further, the style of the segmentation may be associated with the presence of Palaeogene evaporites.
Gravity, Geodesy and Tides
Oxford University Press
on behalf of
The Deutsche Geophysikalische Gesellschaft (DGG) and the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS).