Temblor adds faults for 50 countries

By David Jacobson, Temblor

Check out the new faults

Faults have shaped our globe and provided us with natural beauty we cherish. However, they are also extremely hazardous, especially for the hundreds of millions of people living close to faults capable of producing major earthquakes. Therefore, seeing where faults are can be important both for knowing your hazard, and understanding why natural features appear. Because of this, Temblor has recently added faults for approximately 50 countries, spanning Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Japan, Taiwan, and New Zealand. Additionally, California’s Alquist-Priolo fault zones have also been included.

Another reason why adding more faults in Temblor is important, is that earthquakes strike on faults, and large earthquakes strike on large faults. So, the addition of faults enables us to better localize and identify where large and damaging shocks could occur.

Europe is one of the many places where Temblor now shows faults.


To showcase some of the areas we’ve added, lets take a tour of some large faults.

New Zealand’s Alpine Fault

The Alpine Fault on New Zealand’s South Island is clearly visible from the air. This fault, which is similar to California’s San Andreas Fault is capable of producing large magnitude earthquakes. (Photo from New Zealand Geographic)


The Alpine Fault extends for over 400 km across New Zealand’s South Island. Approximately 75% of slip between the Australian and Pacific plates is accommodated on the Alpine Fault, and large (M=7.8+) earthquakes can take place along it. Additionally, it not only helped form, but marks the western boundary of the Southern Alps.

From these maps, you can see both the numerous faults which are scattered across New Zealand, and the recent earthquakes. Additionally, using the Global Earthquake Activity Rate (GEAR) model on the right, anyone can see if a recent earthquake anywhere on earth falls within the range of what would be expected in their lifetime. This model has shown that earthquakes often fall where they would be expected to. (Faults courtesy of GNS Science).


Turkey’s North Anatolian Fault

The North Anatolian Fault is similar both in length and movement to California’s San Andreas Fault. It most recently ruptured in the 1999 Izmit and Duzce earthquakes, which registered M=7.6 and M=7.2 respectively. The Sea of Marmara near Istanbul is partially a product of the North Anatolian Fault pulling apart the Earth’s crust.

The North Anatolian Fault in Turkey, along with California’s San Andreas Fault and New Zealand’s Alpine Fault are the most studied strike-slip faults on earth. The Sea of Marmara which is a product of the North Anatolian Fault sits just south of the city of Istanbul. These maps show just how seismically active Turkey is, and illustrate it’s seismic susceptibility. (Faults courtesy of MTA).


Myanmar’s Sagaing Fault

Running for 1200 km through Myanmar, the Sagaing Fault is a major structure in between the Indian and Sunda plates. This right-lateral strike-slip fault moves approximately 32-40mm/yr and poses a great threat to many urban areas including the capital city of Naypyidaw. In addition to this fault, Myanmar also experiences seismicity from the offshore Sunda megathrust.

The Sagaing Fault is a major structure which runs through Myanmar. Despite being such a large feature, it has not been heavily studied. More research has been directed towards it as it runs through many populated centers, including the capital city of Naypyidaw. (Faults courtesy of: Southeast Asia Fault-source Evaluation in 2016 (SAFE2016))


What all these maps show is that our globe is heavily faulted and earthquakes occur very regularly. Using the Global Earthquake Activity Rate (GEAR) model, we can approximate the earthquake magnitude that is likely in your lifetime anywhere on earth. And, as can be seen in Temblor, most earthquake fall where they are expected.

While the faults added to Temblor provide additional resources, should any agency or organization wish to provide more updated maps, we will be sure to update our site as quickly as possible.

USGS World Energy Project
GNS Science New Zealand
MTA (Turkey Faults)
Nakata T, Imaizumi T (eds) (2002) Digital Active Fault Map of Japan. University of Tokyo Press Tokyo DVD and 66 pp.
TEM Database (Taiwan Faults)
Southeast Asia Fault-source Evaluation in 2016 (SAFE2016)
Bird et al., Bull. Seismol. Soc. Amer. (2015) (Global Earthquake Activity Rate model)
Aung, et. al., Sagaing Fault slip and deformation in Myanmar observed by continuous GPS measurements, GNSS Applications in Geodesy and Geodynamics, Volume 7, Issue 1, (2016), p. 56-63.

  • Vineet Gahalaut

    Great efforts and a very nice job. Its really heartening to see the Churachandpur Mao Fault (CMF) in this map which runs through Manipur state of India in the Indo-Burmese wedge. This was discovered using GPS measurements.

  • Vineet Gahalaut

    I really do not quite understand the reason for segmenting the Burma micro plate (between India and Sunda) into Indo-Burmese wedge and Andaman Sumatra arc. I know that Peter Bird showed it in his maps but to me there is no segmentation. The motion of the two (Indo-Burmese wedge and Andaman) can be explained using a single pole. I am not sure what is the evidence of segmentation.

  • Ross Stein

    In Temblor, we use Peter Bird’s ‘PB2002’ plate boundaries except where we have fault trace information. Based on this exchange, we will remove this PB2002 boundary.

  • Ross Stein

    Thank you, Vineet. If you have additional or enhanced fault traces you would like us to include, please do send them to us. (Vineet is a leading scientist at National Geophysical Research Institute.)

  • Chung-Han Chan

    I agree that it is difficult to define the interaction between Indo-Burmese wedge and Andaman Sumatra arc. Thus, we do not define the segmentation in the Southeast Asia Fault-source Evaluation database of the Earth Observatory Singapore. I suppose the Temblor database incorporates both Peter Bird’s plate boundaries and ours and show the boundary.

  • Chung-Han Chan

    The comment from Yu Wang, who is the chief organiser of the SAFE2016 database and a geologist of EOS:
    PB2002 model does not work well in SE Asia, as some of its boundaries here do not follow on any geological nor geophysical evidence here.
    Vineet Gahalaut’s comment of PB2002 model along the Andaman-Indoburman range is very reasonable that there is no clear geological boundary between these two areas. There may have a secondary strike-slip fault connecting the Sumatran fault to the fault in the prism, but it does not have a significant influence to the plate rotations.