Morphostructural and paleo-seismic analysis of fault interactions in the Oxford–Cust–Ashley fault system, Canterbury
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science (1st class honours)
This study investigates evidence for linkages and fault interactions centred on the Cust Anticline in Northwest Canterbury between Starvation Hill to the southwest and the Ashley and Loburn faults to the northeast. An integrated programme of geologic, geomorphic, paleo-seismic and geophysical analyses was undertaken owing to a lack of surface exposures and difficulty in distinguishing active tectonic features from fluvial and/or aeolian features across the low-relief Canterbury Plains.
LiDAR analysis identified surface expression of several previously unrecognised active fault traces across the low-relief aggradation surfaces of the Canterbury Plains. Their presence is consistent with predictions of a fault relay exploiting the structural mesh across the region. This is characterised by interactions of northeast-striking contractional faults and a series of re-activating inherited Late Cretaceous normal faults, the latter now functioning as E–W-striking dextral transpressive faults. LiDAR also allowed for detailed analysis of the surface expression of individual faults and folds across the Cust Anticline contractional restraining bend, which is evolving as a pop-up structure within the newly established dextral shear system that is exploiting the inherited, now re-activated, basement fault zone. Paleo-seismic trenches were located on the crest of the western arm of the Cust Anticline and across a previously unrecognised E–W-striking fault trace, immediately southwest of the steeply plunging Cust Anticline termination. These studies confirmed the location and structural style of north-northeast-striking faults and an E–W-striking fault associated with the development of this structural culmination. A review of available industry seismic reflection lines emphasised the presence of a series of common structural styles having the same underlying structural drivers but with varying degrees of development and expression, both in the seismic profiles and in surface elevations across the study area. Based on LiDAR surface mapping and preliminary re-analysis of industry seismic reflection data, four fault zones are identified across the restraining bend structural culminations, which together form the proposed Oxford–Cust–Ashley Fault System.
The 2010–2012 Canterbury Earthquake Sequence showed many similarities to the structural pattern established across the Oxford–Cust–Ashley Fault System, emphasising the importance of identification and characterization of presently hidden fault sources, and the understanding of fault network linkages, in order to improve constraints on earthquake source potential. Improved understanding of potentially-interactive fault sources in Northwest Canterbury, with the potential for combined initial fault rupture and spatial and temporal rupture propagation across this fault system, can be used in probabilistic seismic hazard analysis for the region, which is essential for the suitability and sustainability of future social and economic development.