Palaeoseismic investigations of recent faulting in stable continental regions of Australia, North America and India show that these faults typically have a long-term behaviour characterised by episodes of activity separated by quiescent intervals of at least 10 000 and commonly 100 000 years or more. Long recurrence intervals such as these are well documented by detailed studies of the faults that ruptured during the 1986 Marryat Creek, South Australia and 1988 Tennant Creek, Northern Territory earthquakes. Thus, neotectonic features associated with stable continental region faults such as scarps and grabens commonly have subtle geomorphic expression and may be poorly preserved. Many potentially hazardous faults in stable continental regions are aseismic, which is one reason why the inventory of these faults is incomplete. Although they may be currently aseismic, faults in stable continental regions that are favourably oriented for movement in the current stress field could produce damaging earthquakes, often in unexpected places. Comprehensive palaeoseismic investigations of modern and prehistoric faulting events in stable continental regions are needed to understand the long-term behaviour of these faults, and thereby, improve seismic-hazard assessments.
Additional publication details
Episodic nature of earthquake activity in stable continental regions revealed by palaeoseismicity studies of Australian and North American Quaternary faults