Relay zone evolution: a historyof repeated fault propagation and linkage, central Corinth rift,Greece
R. Hemelsdaël and M. Ford
Journal name: Basin Research
Issue: Vol 28, No 1, February 2016 pp. 34 - 56
Info: Article, PDF ( 10.61Mb )
Established models indicate that, before being breached, relay zones along rift borders can evolve either by lengthening and rotating during progressive overlap of growing fault segments (isolated fault model), or, by simply rotating without lengthening before breaching (coherent fault model). The spatio-temporal distribution of vertical motions in a relay zone can thus be used to distinguish fault growth mechanisms. Depositional relay zones that develop at sea level and accommodate both deposition on the ramp itself as well as transfer of sediments from the uplifting footwall into the hangingwall depocentres and provide the most complete record of vertical motions. We examine the development of a depositional relay ramp on the border of the active Corinth rift, Greece to reconstruct fault interaction in time and space using both onshore and offshore (2D seismic lines) data. The Akrata relay zone developed over a period of ca. 0.5 Myr since the Middle Pleistocene between the newly forming East Helike Fault (EHF) that propagated towards the older, more established Derveni Fault (DF). The relay zone captured the Krathis River, which deposited prograding Gilbert- type deltas on the sub-horizontal ramp. Successive oblique faults record progressive linkage and basinward migration of accommodation along the ramp axis, whereas marine terraces record diachronous uplift in their footwalls. Although early linkage of the relay zone occurs, continuous propagation and linkage of the EHF onto the static DF is recorded before final beaching. Rotation on forced folds above the upward and laterally propagating normal faults at the borders of the relay zone represents the ramp hinges. The Akrata relay zone cannot be compared directly to a simple fault growth model because (1) the relay zone connects two fault segments of different generations; (2) multiple linkages during propagation was facilitated by the presence of pre-existing crustal structures, inherited from the Hellenide fold and thrust belt. The linkage of the EHF to the DF contributed to the westward and northward propagation of the southern rift border.