Earthquake-induced soft-sediment deformations and seismically amplified erosion rates recorded in varved sediments of Köyceğiz Lake (SW Turkey)

Ulas Avsar, Sigurjon Jonsson, Özgür Avşar, Sabine Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Earthquake-triggered landslides amplify erosion rates in catchments, i.e. catchment response to seismic shocks (CR). In addition to historical eyewitness accounts of muddy rivers implying CRs after large earthquakes, several studies have quantitatively reported increased sediment concentrations in rivers after earthquakes. However, only a few paleolimnological studies could detect CRs within lacustrine sedimentary sequences as siliciclastic-enriched intercalations within background sedimentation. Since siliciclastic-enriched intercalations can easily be of non-seismic origin, their temporal correlation with nearby earthquakes is crucial to assign a seismic triggering mechanism. In most cases, either uncertainties in dating methods or the lack of recent seismic activity has prevented reliable temporal correlations, making the seismic origin of observed sedimentary events questionable. Here, we attempt to remove this question mark by presenting sedimentary traces of CRs in the 370-year-long varved sequence of Köyceğiz Lake (SW Turkey) that we compare with estimated peak ground acceleration (PGA) values of several nearby earthquakes. We find that earthquakes exceeding estimated PGA values of ca. 20 cm/s2 can induce soft-sediment deformations (SSD), while CRs seem only to be triggered by PGA levels higher than 70 cm/s2. In Köyceğiz Lake, CRs produce Cr- and Ni-enriched sedimentation due to the seismically mobilized soils derived from ultramafic rocks in the catchment. Given the varve chronology, the residence time of the seismically mobilized material in the catchment is determined to be 5 to 10 years.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4767-4779
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 28 2016

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This research was funded by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). We are grateful to J. Harrington (KAUST) for his constructive comments, which helped us to improve the manuscript. For the varve counting, we acknowledge Ezgi Ünal İmer (Uni. of Queensland); Tolga Necati Yaylım and Çağdaş Sağır (Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University); Rishabh Dutta, Ayrat Abdullin, Renier Ladron De Guevara, Wenbin Xu, Hannes Vasyura-Bathke, and Joël Ruch (KAUST). We also would like to thank to Jasper Moernaut and an anonymous reviewer for their constructive comments. The data for this paper are available by contacting the corresponding author.


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