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The southern Baltic Sea – a geoarchive to investigate Quaternary fault reactivation due to glacial isostatic adjustment

The southern Baltic Sea between the German and Polish coast in the south and the Danish and Swedish coast in the north comprises the well-investigated structural-geological situation along the Tornquist Fan area. Different tectonic features tell the story of this polyphase activated weakness zone, like the Paleozoic Tornquist Zone in the NW, Mesozoic NE trending fault zones or salt structures with crestal grabens above, such as various Late Cretaceous to Paleogene inversion structures.

Time-migrated reflection seismic sections indicate neotectonic activity and fault reactivation, a fact supported by recent earthquakes and ongoing isostatic movements of up to 1 cm/a. Due to the reduced resolution of this thin Quaternary layer within the seismic sections, the fault activation could not be dated more precisely so far. Stress variations of the existing background stress are assumed to result from glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) processes within the lithosphere. This study analyses fault reactivation due to GIA, covering the past 200 ka. For the first time, this glacially triggered faulting could be studied and compared on a variety of faults that differ in their strike and dip direction, age, depth, and character. Using finite element simulations, we tested if and when faults were reactivated during ice advances and retreats within the European Saalian and Weichselian glacial phases.


Elisabeth Seidel1, Holger Steffen2, Rebekka Steffen2, Niklas Ahlrichs3, Christian Hübscher1
1University of Hamburg, Germany; 2Lantmäteriet, Sweden; 3University of Hamburg, Germany;Federal Insitute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Germany
GeoBerlin 2023
Baltic Sea