Earth Institute Research Projects

Collaborative Research: The North Anatolian Fault in the Marmara Sea, Turkey: The Growth of Continental Transform

Lead PI: Dr. Michael S. Steckler , Mr. Leonardo Seeber , Donna Jean Shillington

Unit Affiliation: Marine Geology & Geophysics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

September 2009 - December 2012
Asia ; Middle East ; Marmara Sea
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: Recent international focus on the Marmara Sea has led to shallow, very high-resolution seismic surveys that mapped the surface and near-surface traces of faults and sediment failures as well as deep-penetration, low-resolution multichannel seismic surveys that image the deep basin and crustal structure. In July 2008, the proponents acquired >2700 km of high-resolution MCS reflection data throughout Marmara that fills the resolution gap between those datasets. The current proposed study will support the continuation of analysis and interpretation of the available data to reconstruct the tectonic evolution of Marmara in the last ~1 million years. Reprocessing and detailed stratigraphic and structural interpretations will be undertaken to determine the times at which different fault systems were active, slip rates on major faults, and the stratigraphic response to tectonics and climate. Pre-stack depth migration will also be applied to selected profiles from the deep-penetration Seismarmara survey to obtain better estimates of fault geometry. The Marmara is an ideal setting in which to address the following fundamental questions regarding transform basins: 1) What are the patterns of basin growth in space and time, and how do they relate to the deformation at depth? 2) Can the recent tectonic regime be extrapolated back to the onset of the sedimentary basins (i.e., steady-state tectonics), or have tectonics changed through time? 3) What are the geometries of major faults, and how is plate motion partitioned between them? 4) How are faults in Marmara influenced by pre-existing structures?

OUTCOMES: 18 journal publications and five one-time publications. Added an extensive area of coverage to existing multichannel coverage. Discovered the existence of lowstrand deltas in the North Imrali Basin.


National Science Foundation (NSF)




John Diebold, Marie-Helene Cormier


University of Missouri, University of California - Santa Barbara, Dokuz Eyl'l University, Itanbul Technical University



seismology geology and tectonics tectonic evolution transform basins sediment faults north anatolian transform data interpretation seismic survey marmara basin


Earth fundamentals