Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 175, Issue 10, pp 3463–3484 | Cite as

Contemporary Crustal Deformation Within the Pamir Plateau Constrained by Geodetic Observations and Focal Mechanism Solutions

  • Zhengyang PanEmail author
  • Jiankun He
  • Jun Li


We used an updated data set of 192 GPS-derived surface velocities and 393 earthquake focal mechanisms (Mw > 3.0, hypocenter depths < 30 km) to evaluate the spatial variations in the surface strain rate and crustal stress regime throughout the Pamir Plateau and its surrounding regions. The strain rate field was estimated using the spline in tension approach that solves for the surface velocity in a rectangular grid and the stress field was predicted from focal mechanism solutions using the damped regional-scale stress inversion (DRSSI) method of Hardebeck and Michael (Journal of Geophysical Research,, 2006). The results show that the crustal stress field around the Pamir Plateau is predominantly characterized by NNW–SSE compression and E–W extension, which is consistent with the principal orientations of the two-dimensional surface strain rate tensor. This agreement supports the notion that the Pamir and southwestern Tien Shan are uniformly strained blocks. In particular, the fan-shaped rotational pattern between \({\text{Shmax}}\) and the strain rate from the western Pamir to the Tajik Basin shows that the counterclockwise rotation of the \({\text{Shmax}}\) orientation is associated with vertical deformation, which is consistent with the idea of Schurr et al. (Tectonics 33(8):2014TC003576, 2014) concerning the gravitational collapse and westward extrusion of the crust in the western Pamir. We propose that such a stress–strain pattern, dominated by NNW–ESE oriented compression and E–W trending extension, originated from a combination of the northward push of the Indian continent and the southward subduction of the Tien Shan.


Focal mechanism geodetic strain active deformation Pamir Plateau India–Eurasia collision 



Damped regional-scale stress inversion


The maximum shortening strain rate axis


Global positioning system


Horizontal maximum principal stress


The main Pamir thrust


Global Centroid Moment Tensor catalog


China National Seismic Network


Cut-and-paste method



The authors are very grateful to the editor of Pure and Applied Geophysics and three anonymous reviewers for their constructive reviews that have significantly improved to the manuscript. This work was jointly supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC; Grant numbers 41030320, 41274064). We thank the Data Management Center of China National Seismic Network at Institute of Geophysics, China Earthquake Administration for providing Waveform data for this study. All of figures in this manuscript were prepared with Generic Mapping Tools (GMT) (Wessel et al. 2013).

Supplementary material

24_2018_1872_MOESM1_ESM.txt (20 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (TXT 20 kb)
24_2018_1872_MOESM2_ESM.txt (11 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (TXT 11 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Continental Collision and Plateau Uplift, Institute of Tibetan Plateau ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Earth ScienceUniversity of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Second Monitoring and Application CenterChina Earthquake AdministrationXi’anChina

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