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Vertical coseismic offsets from differential high-resolution stereogrammetric DSMs: The 2013 Baluchistan, Pakistan earthquake

May 25, 2019

The recent proliferation of high-resolution (< 3-m spatial resolution) digital topography datasets opens a spectrum of geodetic applications in differential topography, including the quantification of coseismic vertical displacement fields. Most investigations of coseismic vertical displacements to date rely, in part, on pre- or post-event lidar surveys that are intractable or non-existent in many locales. Stereogrammetric digital surface models (DSMs) derived from high-resolution satellite optical imagery provide a new avenue for the retrieval of spatially-dense vertical coseismic displacements on a global scale. In this study, we generated 2-m resolution pre- and post-seismic DSMs from satellite optical imagery spanning the 2013 Mw7.7 Baluchistan strike-slip earthquake that occurred on the Hoshab fault in southern Pakistan. We applied the Iterative Closest Point algorithm to the DSMs to quantify the coseismic vertical displacement field at a spatial resolution of 10-30 m and to generate 3D coseismic strain tensors. We found that across-fault vertical offsets alternated between uplift and subsidence and varied between ~1-3 m in a non-systematic manner along the Hoshab fault. We show that the pre-existing topography and near-fault geomorphology are variably consistent and inconsistent with the displacement kinematics of the 2013 earthquake, and we argue that these relationships highlight varied slip sense history along the Hoshab fault. Notably, topography along the southern extents of the Hoshab fault requires different surface displacement kinematics than occurred in the 2013 earthquake, suggesting that the Hoshab fault accommodates varying senses of slip (bimodal slip) through time.