My latest paper deals with the Holocene activity of the Ventas de Zafarraya Fault in Southern Spain. It was published some days ago in the most recent issue of Cuaternario y Geomorfología. The Ventas de Zafarraya Fault (VZF) west of the Granada basin (36.96° N, 4.14°W) has a beautiful morphologic expression and an exciting history. The fault bounds the Zafarraya polje to the south, with Quaternary sediments to the north (hanging wall) and limestones of the Internal Subbetics in the footwall (Fig. 1).
The E-W trending normal fault has an average dip of 60° to the north and is visible for at least 15 km. A nice limestone fault scarp with up to 2 m height can be found in the central area. This scarp marks the surface rupture of the “Andalusian Earthquake” which occurred on Christmas Day 1884 (Udias & Munoz, 1979). Several villages were destroyed back then and hundreds of people died. Epicentral intensities reached MSK X. First data on the paleoseismicity of this fault were published by Reicherter (2001) and Reicherter et al. (2003). In order to complete their record, we continued field work which included geomorphological analyses (Fig. 2), trenching (Fig. 3) and geophysical investigations (Fig. 4).
We started with georadar (GPR) investigations (200 MHz antenna) to find a suitable trench site and then opened three trenches. Georadar data allowed us to prove that the features which were found in the trenches can be found all along the fault line within the polje. Therefore, we can exclude the possibility of local slope movements. Also, we found sets of colluvial wedges and secondary faults imaged by GPR. Trenching allowed us to estimate a magnitude of ~6.5-6.7 for the Christmas event. Four events are proposed within the last 10 ka. We determined the slip rate to be between 0.3-0.45 mm/a and found that the recurrence intervall is in the order of 2,000 a.
A sketch illustrates the sediment features found with GPR measurements:
The Ventas de Zafarraya Fault significantly contributes to the seismic hazard in Southern Spain. Future research focus should now be drawn to other faults of similar length and activity, as those faults are posing significant seismic hazards, too.
- Grützner, C., Ruano, P., Jabaloy, A., Galindo-Zaldívar, J., Becker-Heidmann, P., Sanz de Galdeano, C., Rudersdorf, A., Reicherter, K., 2013. Late Holocene rupture history of the Ventas de Zafarraya Fault (Southern Spain). Cuaternario y Geomorfología 27(3-4), 52-61.
- Reicherter K., 2001. Paleoseismologic advances in the Granada basin (Betic Cordilleras, Southern Spain). Acta geologica hispanica, v. 36 (2001), n° 3-4, p. 267 – 281.
- Reicherter K., Jabaloy A., Galindo-Zaldívar J., Ruano P., Becker-Heidmann P., Morales J., Reiss S. & González-Lodeiro F., 2003. Repeated palaeoseismic activity of the Ventas de Zafarraya fault (S Spain) and its relation with the 1884 Andalusian earthquake. Int J Earth Sci (Geol Rundsch) (2003) 92:912–922.
- Udias, A & Muñoz, D., 1979. The Andalusian Earthquake of 25 December 1884. Tectonophysics 53, 291-299.