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Philippine Fault System

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The Philippine Fault System is a major inter-related system of faults throughout the whole of
the Philippine Archipelago,[1] primarily caused by tectonic forces compressing the Philippines into
what geophysicists call the Philippine Mobile Belt.[2]


 1Philippine Mobile Belt

 2Philippine Fault Zone
 3Formation
 4Earthquakes
 5Other active fault systems
 6See also
 7References
 8Gallery
 9External links

Philippine Mobile Belt[edit]

The Philippine Mobile Belt is composed of a large number of accretionary blocks and terranes.
These terranes are long and narrow like the Zambales ophiolites which is at least 400 km long and
50 km wide. The strips generally run north-south and the zones of convergence are usually
demarcated by fault lines. The Philippine Mobile Belt is compressed on the west by the Eurasian
Plate and two arms of the Sunda Plate, and on the east by the Philippine Sea Plate. These tectonic
plates have compressed and lifted parts of the Philippines causing extensive faulting, primarily on a
north-south axis. All faults in the Philippines are inter-related by the tectonic forces of the Philippine
Mobile Belt, or its tectonic induced volcanism. A more complete understanding can be gained by
viewing the faults in the Philippines as an inter-related Philippine Fault System.

Philippine Fault Zone[edit]

The Philippine Fault Zone (PFZ) extends 1200 km across the Philippine archipelago behind the
convergent boundary of the Philippine Trench and the subduction of the Philippine Sea Plate.[3] This
left-lateral strike-slip fault extends NW-SE (N30 – 40 W) accommodating the lateral oblique motion
of the subducting Philippine Sea Plate with respect to the Philippine Trench.[4][3] It extends from
Davao Gulf in the south, bisects the Caraga region at the Agusan River basin, crosses to Leyte and
Masbate islands, and traverses Quezon province in eastern Luzon before passing through Nueva
Ecija up to the Ilocos region in northwest Luzon. The northern and southern extensions of the PFZ
are characterized by branching faults due to brittle terminations. These horsetail faults are indicative
of the lateral propagation and further development of the PFZ. The fault’s current activity can be
observed in Holocene sandstone outcrops on the Mati and Davao Oriental islands.[5] The fault
experiences a slip rate of approximately 2-2.5 cm/year.[6]

It is proposed that the Philippine Trench and PFZ represent a ‘shear partitioning’ mechanism, where
the oblique physical motions of subduction at the convergent zone resulted in the development of
the major strike-slip fault. In the Philippine Sea, the oblique motion of the subducting Philippine Sea
Plate resulted in the formation of the Philippine trench and the PFZ back arc fault system. The
oblique motion is accommodated by two vector components; one vector perpendicular to the
converging Philippine Trench and one vector parallel to the PFZ. Approximately 30% of the oblique
motion is accommodated by the PFZ while the remaining proportions are displaced along other
regional tectonic features as the Philippine Sea Plate currently subducts below the Philippine
archipelago at a rate of 6–8 cm/year. These two tectonic features thus correlate to a similar time of
development. The formation of the PFZ was a result of two stages. The first stage began at ~10 Ma,
when the northern segments of the PFZ developed due to the convergence of the China Sea Crust
underneath the nearby Manila Trench. The lack of accretionary prism at the Philippine Trench is
suggestive of young origin correlating to an early second stage of development (2-4 Ma) with the
central PFZ proposed to have developed between 2.7 and 3.8 Ma.[3]

The central Philippine Fault Zone consisting of the Guinayangan, Masbate, and Central Leyte faults
are the most seismically active regions transecting the islands of Bondoc to Leyte. The northern and
southern extensions of the Philippine Fault Zone experience infrequent earthquakes and often
described as locked segments which are capable of larger magnitude earthquakes. The largest
(M7.0) and most destructive earthquakes are generated along the Guinayangan fault every 30-100
years with slip rates of 20–33 mm/year as determined by GPS and historical records. Moderate
earthquakes (M3.0-5.0) are observed along the Masbate fault with frequent aftershocks indicative of
continued displacement and regional slip of 5–35 mm/year. The northern and southern segments of
the Central Leyte fault experiences different seismic activity dependent on regional geology. While
the Southern Central Leyte fault experiences moderate seismic events, the Northern Central Leyte
fault creeps at approximately 25 mm/year. Historical data on the PFZ is limited due to the faults
geographical location predominantly offshore, lack of complete paleoseismic data and lack of
permanent Global Positioning System (GPS) that can trace movements over long periods of time.[4]

Other active fault systems[edit]

 Valley Fault System
 Macolod Corridor - broad left-lateral fracture zone.
 Lubang-Verde Passage Fault System - located offshore between Batangas peninsula and
Mindoro Island, following the northwest-southeast alignment of Verde and Lubang islands (thus
the name) and essentially strike-slip (left-lateral) fault.
 Mindoro/Aglubang Fault - break in slope between mountainous western Mindoro and the flat
lands of eastern.
 Sibuyan Sea Fault - located offshore north of Masbate; using bathymetric (SeaMarc) and
paleomagnetic data gathered in the northern section of the Sibuyan Sea, Sarewitz and Lewis
(1991) were led to conclude that the Sibuyan Sea Fault is relayed with the Verde Passage Fault,
both left-lateral faults, by an aborted spreading center under a transtensional tectonic regime.
 Legaspi Lineament - long SE-trending linear feature emanating from Pasacao in the Ragay
Gulf area, passing through Lake Bato then to Legaspi City and considering its morphological
prominence and seismic activity, it deserves to be elevated in category from a less significant
lineament to a fault.
 Tablas Lineament - tectonic boundary between the North Palawan microcontinental block and
the western edge of the Philippine Mobile Belt. It trends northerly as it separates Busuanga
peninsula from the Antique Range in Panay Island, and passess offshore northwards east of
Tablas Island. The present geodynamic setting of the Philippines obliges the Tablas Lineament
to operate as a right-lateral strike-slip fault. Structure appears to connect with the Negros Trench
 Mindanao Fault - a prominent NW-trending linear fracture zone on the western third of
Mindanao Island and has 2 distinct segments, including that which separates the Daguma
Range from the Cotabato Basin corresponding to the Cotabato Fault segment. This segment is
highly linear and has features suggestive of normal faulting although it may have been a left
lateral strike slip fault during its early history. The Quaternary Mt. Parker volcano is located at
the western end of this fault and, on radar images, seems to be cut by the fault and terraces
formed by Quaternary limestone mark the Daguma Range. These, together with the young
morphology of incised river valleys, suggests a young age for the fault along which the Daguma
Range was uplifted. Although Quaternary in age, it still has to be ascertained whether the fault is
active or not (Quebral, 1994). The Sindangan Fault segment represents the northern
continuation of the fault towards northern Zamboanga. Focal mechanism solutions of
earthquakes offshore and narrow shear zones transecting recent gravel deposits suggest active
left-lateral faulting (Pubellier and others, 1991).
 Offshore Cebu-Bohol faults (?) - occasional occurrence of low to moderate magnitude,
shallow-seated earthquakes between Cebu and Bohol, some capable of causing significant
damage to infrastructure, is the subject of current discussions on the possible existence of active
faults in the region. Such earthquake generators are most likely offshore, as there have so far
been no indications of active faulting within the islands of Cebu and Bohol. Active fault studies
are spearheaded by PHIVOLCS.

See also[edit]
 Molucca Sea Collision Zone
 Marikina Valley Fault System

1. ^ Nicolas Pinet and Jean Francois Stephan (1989) in Tectonics of Circum-Pacific Continental
Margins ISBN 90-6764-132-4 p170
2. ^ Rangin and Pubellier (1990) in Tectonics of Circum-Pacific Continental Margins ISBN 90-6764-132-
4 p140 ff
3. ^ Jump up to:a b c Aurelio, M., 2000. Shear partitioning in the Philippines: Constraints from Philippine
Fault and global positioning system data. The Island Arc 9.
4. ^ Jump up to:a b Besana, G.M., Ando, M., 2005. The central Philippine Fault Zone: Location of great
earthquakes, slow events, and creep activity. Earth Planets Science 57, 987-994.
5. ^ Yumul, G., Dimalanta, C., Maglambayan, V., Marquez, E., 2008. Tectonic setting of a composite
terrane: A review of the Philippine island arc system. Geosciences Journal 12, 7-17.
6. ^ Barrier, E., Huchon, P., Aurelio, M., 1991. Philippine fault: A key for Philippine kinematics. Geology
19, 32-35.