The field investigations in the epicentral area of the 1994 Wadakkancheri (Desamangalam), Kerala, earthquake (M 4.3) indicate subtle, but clearly recognizable expressions of geologically recent fault zone, consisting of fracture sets showing brittle displacement and a gouge zone. The fracture zone confines to the crystalline basement, and is spatially coincident with the elongation of the isoseismals of the 1994 mainshock and a 10-km-long WNW-ESE trending topographic lineament. The preliminary results from the electron spin resonance (ESR) dating on the quartz grains from the fault gouge indicate that the last major faulting in this site occurred 430 ± 43 ka ago. The experiments on different grain sizes of quartz from the gouge showed consistent decrease in age to a plateau of low values, indicating that ESR signals in finer grains were completely zeroed at the time of faulting due to frictional heat. The results show a relatively young age for displacement on the fault that occurs within a Precambrian shear zone. Discrete reactivated faults in such areas may be characterized by low degree of activity, but considering the ESR age of the last significant faulting event, the structure at Desamangalam may be categorized as a potentially active fault capable of generating moderate earthquakes, separated by very long periods of quiescence.
Volume 129, 2020
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