Present-day stress orientations in the Great Sumatran Fault in North Sumatra

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David Fernández-Blanco , Mélody Philippon, Christoph von Hagke


Trench-parallel strike slip faults develop at lithospheric scale during oblique high-angle subduction. A “sliver” plate forms due to slip partitioning between the subduction plane (margin-normal slip) and the strike slip fault (margin-parallel slip). This process ultimately controls the location of volcanoes and earthquakes. The Great Sumatran Fault (GSF) is a showcase of this tectonic configuration located in the Sumatran section of the Sunda arc-trench system. Kinematics of the large-scale structures of the Sumatra section of the Sunda trench are well understood and tensional and compressional domains have been identified at the regional scale. However, detailed understanding of the stress distribution is still lacking yet essential for evaluating the seismic hazard potential in order to mitigate the impact of the large, hazardous earthquakes associated with this system.
In this contribution, we study the present-day stress orientations of the Great Sumatran Fault at its northern section (NGSF). We deduced the state of (paleo)stress along structural features observed at two scales; (a) at meso-scale, analyzing ASTER GDEM data, and (b) at outcrop-scale, with field data measurements. We focus on the leading edge of northwestward propagating continental sliver deformation exposed on land, i.e. the northernmost tip of Sumatra (between 4,5°N and 6°N), where the NGSF bifurcates into its two major branches. These two fault branches form two structural highs bounding a graben basin in the onshore, continuing into the Pulau Weh Island in the east, and the Pulau Aceh Archipelago in the west. Given their location at the present day deformation front, these islands provide a unique opportunity to compare the sub-recent stress field with present day stresses, contributing to the understanding of the stress field evolution during northwestwards propagation of the Sumatran forearc continental sliver.



Earth Sciences, Geology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


subduction, Transform faults, Great Sumatran Fault, strain partitioning, stress orientations, Sumatra


Published: 2018-04-20 05:44

Last Updated: 2022-02-09 06:57

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