Active tectonics in 4D high-resolution

Zhikun Ren, Olaf Zielke, Jingxing Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


With a little more than 100 years since the publication of seminal and field-defining investigations, active tectonics is still a relatively young sub-discipline of structural geology. This research field addresses the accumulation of strain due to plate tectonic motion and more importantly release thereof through the occurrence of earthquakes (or other strain-releasing events). In that regard, active tectonics aims to characterize the incremental steps of plate tectonics. Determining earthquake chronologies, fault slip rates, and other common objectives importantly feed into our understanding of, for example, fault mechanics and crustal rheology. Characterizing the recurrence of large and potentially devastating earthquakes, is further motivated by seismic hazard assessment and risk mitigation.The primary data source in active tectonics is surface and shallow subsurface evidence of faulting –presenting itself in topographic and stratigraphic data sets respectively. Field observations and air photo interpretation of displaced stratigraphic and geomorphic markers were used almost 40 years ago to formulate end-member models of earthquake recurrence. Technological developments since then –especially within the last two decades– have dramatically increased the abundance and resolution of topographic data sets and the ability to date stratigraphic units and geomorphic surfaces, enabling the formulation of better-informed conceptual models of earthquake recurrence. Here, we provide an overview of the high-resolution topographic data sets and dating methods that enabled the recent advances of active tectonics.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)264-271
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Structural Geology
StatePublished - Sep 27 2018

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: Thanks are due to Dr. Yu Zhou and Xuhua Shi for their help in organizing sessions in 2016 AOGS. We also want to thank the authors who supported our sessions in 2016 AGU, AOGS and 2017 CGU. Thanks are also due to Editor Joao Hippertt, and Professors Sean Bemis and Soumyajit Mukherjee for their critical review and constructive suggestions. Thanks to Austin Elliott for helpful discussion on an earlier version of the manuscript. This work was funded by National Key R&D Program of China (2017YFC1500401), National Nonprofit Fundamental Research Grant of China (IGCEA1803, IGCEA1810, IGCEA1607), the State Key Laboratory of Earthquake Dynamics (LED2014A03), and National Natural Science Foundation of China (41472201, 41661134011, 41761144071).


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