Permanent upper plate deformation in western Myanmar during the great 1762 earthquake: Implications for neotectonic behavior of the northern Sunda megathrust

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, Volume 118, Number 3, p.1277-1303 (2013)




The 1762 Arakan earthquake resulted from rupture of the northern Sunda megathrust and is one of those rare preinstrumental earthquakes for which early historical accounts document ground deformations. In order to obtain more comprehensive and detailed measurements of coseismic uplift, we conducted comprehensive field investigations and geochronological analyses of marine terraces on the two largest islands in western Myanmar. We confirm 3–4 m of coseismic coastal emergence along southwestern Cheduba Island, diminishing northeastward to less than 1 m. Farther northeast, uplift associated with the earthquake ranges from slightly more than 1 m to 5–6 m along the western coast of Ramree Island but is insignificant along the island's eastern coast. This double-hump pattern of uplift coincides with the long-term anticlinal growth of these two islands. Thus, we propose that the 1762 earthquake resulted from slip on splay faults under the islands, in addition to rupture of the megathrust. Elastic modeling implies that fault slip during the 1762 earthquake ranges from about 9 to 16 m beneath the islands and corresponds to a magnitude of Mw 8.5 if the rupture length of the megathrust is ~500 km. The island's uplift histories suggest recurrence intervals of such events of about 500–700 years. Additional detailed paleoseismological studies would add significant additional detail to the history of large earthquakes in this region.