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Paleoseismological Investigations at the Rurrand Fault, Lower Rhine Embayment

  • K. Lehmann (a1), J. Klostermann (a1) and R. Pelzing (a1)

Abstract

From 1998 to 2000, we have studied the evidence for large paleoearthquakes at the Rurrand Fault. This fault represents the eastern border of the Roer Valley Graben, which is the tectonically most active region in the Lower Rhine Embayment. The purpose of our paleoseismological studies is to enlarge the seismicity data base for this region beyond instrumental records and historical reports using indications of surface-faulting events from stratigraphie conditions at active faults. Larger time spans considered in the earthquake catalogue will enable a more reliable statistical analysis which is required for seismic hazard assessment. Based on analyses of geological data and géomorphologie investigations, detailed geophysical surveying was carried out along the southern Rurrand Fault segment for the selection of a site appropriate to paleoseismological studies. Mapping of physical parameter contrasts with seismic reflection, VES, ERT, and GPR measurements along fault-crossing profiles inferred position and near-surface structure of the fault. At the site promising the best conditions, a trench was excavated across the fault near the city of Jiilich, Germany. Within a depth of about 4 m, the Rurrand Fault was exposed in an about 50 m-wide system of faults and fault zones, affecting the stratigraphie sequence with various displacement characteristics and amounts of throw. According to heavy mineral analyses, the deposition time of most the exposed sediment strata was assigned to Pliocene and Lower Pleistocene time. These geological units are covered by loess layers deposited through so-lifluction processes during the Weichselian glacial, i.e. some tens of ka B.P., or – with lower probability – during the Saalian glacial. Several faults which had also affected the loess reflect younger fault activity. However, clear paleoseismic features were not observed in the trench, thus an unambiguous proof of the occurrence of coseismic fault displacements could not be furnished. Recently, differential subsidence due to drainage takes place in the surroundings of the nearby opencast mining. An amount of some 0.35 m, concentrated in a very narrow lateral zone, has been observed during the last 40 a at about 1 km distance from the trench position. To date, the subsidence could not be clearly located in the trench exposure. Results from geodetic levelling campaigns will help to determine the offset residuals and to gain better insight into the ruling displacement processes at the Rurrand Fault.

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References

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Keywords

Paleoseismological Investigations at the Rurrand Fault, Lower Rhine Embayment

  • K. Lehmann (a1), J. Klostermann (a1) and R. Pelzing (a1)

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