Active faulting in the Lower Tagus Valley, Central Portugal, poses a significant seismic hazard that is not well understood. Although the area has been affected by damaging earthquakes during historical times, only recently has definitive evidence of Quaternary surface faulting been found along the western side of the Tagus River. The location, geometry and kinematics of active faults along the eastern side of the Tagus valley have not been previously studied. We present the first results of mapping and paleoseismic analysis of the eastern strand of the Lower Tagus Valley Fault Zone (LTVFZ). Geomorphological, paleoseismological, and seismic reflection studies indicate that the Eastern LTVFZ is a left-lateral strike-slip fault. The detailed mapping of geomorphic features and studies in two paleoseismic trenches show that surface fault rupture has occurred at least six times during the past 10ka. The river offsets indicate a minimum slip rate on the order of 0.14-0.24mm/yr for the fault zone. Fault trace mapping, geomorphic analysis, and paleoseismic studies suggest a maximum magnitude for the Eastern LTVFZ of Mw~7.3 with a recurrence interval for surface ruptures ~1.7ka. At least two events occurred after 1175±95calyrBP. Single-event displacements are unlikely to be resolved in the paleoseismic trenches, thus our observations most probably represent the minimum number of events identified in the trenches. © 2015.
Year of publication: 2015