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Offset rivers, drainage spacing and the record of strike-slip faulting: The Kuh Banan Fault, Iran

Walker, F.; Allen, M.B.

Offset rivers, drainage spacing and the record of strike-slip faulting: The Kuh Banan Fault, Iran Thumbnail


F. Walker


This study concerns the ways in which rivers can record part, but not necessarily all, of strike-slip fault offset. The focus is the active right-lateral Kuh Banan Fault in eastern Iran, within the Arabia–Eurasia collision. Plate convergence has caused thrust and strike-slip faulting across SW Asia. The active slip rate of the Kuh Banan Fault is ~ 1–2 mm/yr. Total displacement is ~ 5–7 km, as determined from offset geological markers and the length of a pull-apart basin. A component of thrusting has generated ~ 1 km of relief, which preserves the offset of rivers displaced laterally by the strike-slip motion. Ridge half-widths (W), and river outlet spacings along the fault (S) are related by the drainage spacing parameter R, where R = W/S. Published data for older, larger mountain ranges have extremely characteristic drainage spacing (R = 2.1). Drainage spacing along the Kuh Banan Fault has a mean value of 1.8 and is much more variable (R = 1.1–3.1), due to local structural complexities which have influenced river courses. Most river offsets along the Kuh Banan Fault are small (< 100 m); the maximum observed offset (~ 3.5 km) is smaller than the total fault displacement of at least ~ 5 km. The most likely explanation for this discrepancy is stream capture, whereby reaches of rivers downstream of the fault are juxtaposed by fault slip against rivers upstream of the fault. In this way, offset of individual rivers is repeatedly reset to zero. Stream capture is influenced by outlet spacing such that the largest rivers can accumulate large offsets, while smaller, closely spaced rivers are captured more often, inhibiting large offsets. The mean offset of the main rivers along the Kuh Banan Fault is one-third their mean drainage spacing, indicating that the spacing of smaller rivers controls the size of the maximum offset.


Walker, F., & Allen, M. (2012). Offset rivers, drainage spacing and the record of strike-slip faulting: The Kuh Banan Fault, Iran. Tectonophysics, 530-531, 251-263.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Mar 20, 2012
Deposit Date May 23, 2013
Publicly Available Date Jul 29, 2014
Journal Tectonophysics
Print ISSN 0040-1951
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 530-531
Pages 251-263
Keywords Strike-slip fault, River offset, Iran, Geomorphology.


Accepted Journal Article (2.2 Mb)

Copyright Statement
NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Tectonophysics. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Tectonophysics, 530-531, 2012, 10.1016/j.tecto.2012.01.001.

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