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Chapter 1 Introduction to Paleoseismology

Elsevier Science & Technology
DOI: 10.1016/s0074-6142(09)95001-x
  • Earth Science


Publisher Summary Paleoseismology is the study of prehistoric earthquakes, especially their location, timing, and size. Paleoseismology differs from more general geologic studies of slow to rapid crustal movements during the late Cenozoic (for example, neotectonics) in its focus on the almost instantaneous deformation of landforms and sediments during earthquakes. This focus permits the study of the distribution of individual paleoearthquakes in space and over time periods of thousands or tens of thousands of years. Such long paleoseismic histories help understand many aspects of neotectonics, such as regional patterns of seismicity and tectonic deformation and the seismogenic behavior of specific faults. Paleoseismology is also part of the broader field of earthquake geology, which comprises aspects of modern instrumental studies of earthquakes (seismology), tectonics and structural geology, historical surface deformation (geodesy), and the geomorphology of tectonic landscapes (tectonic geomorphology). Paleoseismologists can only study earthquakes producing recognizable deformation in the form of deformed stratigraphic units, displaced landforms, or earthquake-induced sedimentation.

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