This paper shows, by field palaeoseismological data, the Holocene activity of the central segment of the intracontinental Talas–Fergana Fault (TFF), and the relevance of possible future seismic shaking on slope stability around a large water reservoir. The fault, striking NW–SE, is marked by a continuous series of scarps, deflected streams and water divides, and prehistoric earthquakes that offset substrate and Holocene deposits. Fault movements are characterised by right-lateral strike-slip kinematics with a subordinate component of uplift of the NE block. Structural, geological and geomorphological field data indicate that shallow and deep landslides are aligned along the TFF, and some of them are active. Where the TFF runs close to the reservoir, the fault trace is obscured by a series of landslides, affecting rock and soil materials and ranging in size from small slope instabilities to deep-seated gravity-induced slope deformations (DGSDs). The largest of these, which does not show clear evidence of present-day activity, involves a volume of about 1 km3 and is associated with smaller but active landslides in its lower part, with volumes in the order of 2.5 × 104 m3 to 1 × 106 m3. Based on the spatial and temporal relations between landslides and faults, we argue that at least some of these slope failures may have a coseismic character. Stability analyses by means of limit equilibrium methods (LEMs), and stress–strain analysis by finite difference numerical modelling (FDM), were carried out to evaluate different hazard scenarios linked to these slope instabilities. The results indicate concern for the different threats posed, ranging from the possible disruption of the M-41 highway, the main transportation route in central Asia, to the possible collapse of huge rock masses into the reservoir, possibly generating a tsunami.
- active fault
- deep-seated slope deformation
- Tien Shan
- Talas-Fergana Fault