Investigation of the Qadimah Fault in Western Saudi Arabia using Satellite Radar Interferometry and Geomorphology Analysis Techniques

  • Robert Smith

Student thesis: Master's Thesis

Abstract

The Qadimah Fault has been mapped as a normal fault running through the middle of a planned $50 billion city. For this reason, there is an urgent need to evaluate the seismic hazard that the fault poses to the new development. Although several geophysical studies have supported the existence of a fault, the driving mechanism remains unclear. While a fault controlled by gravity gliding of the overburden on a mobile salt layer is unlikely to be of concern to the city, one caused by the continued extension of a normal rotational fault due to Red Sea rifting could result in a major earthquake. A number of geomorphology and geodetic techniques were used to better understand the fault. An analysis of topographic data revealed a sharp discontinuity in slope aspect and hanging wall tilting which strongly supports the existence of a normal fault. A GPS survey of an emergent reef platform which revealed a tilted coral surface also indicates that deformation has occurred in the region. An interferometric synthetic aperture radar investigation has also been performed to establish whether active deformation is occurring on the fault. Ground movements that could be consistent with inter-seismic strain accumulation have been observed, although the analysis is restricted by the limited data available. However, a simple fault model suggests that the deformation is unlikely due to continued crustal stretching. This, in addition to the lack of footwall uplift in the topography data, suggests that the fault is more likely controlled by a shallow salt layer. However, more work will need to be done in the future to confirm these findings.
Date of AwardJul 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Science and Engineering
SupervisorSigurjon Jonsson (Supervisor)

Keywords

  • Insar
  • Normal fault
  • Geodesy
  • Salt tectonics
  • Earthquakes

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