Earthquake source characteristics along the arcuate Himalayan belt: Geodynamic implications
The occurrences of moderate to large magnitude earthquakes and associated subsurface geological processes were critically examined in the backdrop of Indian plate obliquity, stress obliquity, topography, and the late Tertiary regional tectonics for understanding the evolving dynamics and kinematics in the central part of the Himalayas. The higher topographic areas are likely associated with the zones of depressions, and the lower topographic areas are found around the ridges located in the frontal part of the orogen. A positive correlation between plate and stress obliquities is established for this diffuse plate boundary. We propose that the zone of sharp bending of the descending Indian lithosphere is the nodal area of major stress accumulation which is released occasionally in form of earthquakes. The lateral geometry of the Himalayas shows clusters of seismicity at an angle of ∼ 20° from the centre part of the arc. Such spatial distribution is interpreted in terms of compression across the arc and extension parallel to the arc. This biaxial deformation results in the development of dilational shear fractures, observed along the orogenic belt, at an angle of ∼20◦ from the principal compressive stress axis.