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Department of Geological Hazards/Laboratory of Geodynamics and Hazardous Geological Processes/Scientific Achievements
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Scientific Achievements

   The study of the active faults of the territory of Armenia sharply developed after the Spitak earthquake in 1988. Cooperation started with the world's most renowned scientific centers. The active faults in the territory of Armenia were raised to a modern level by their methodology and results.

   Studies also include assessment of geometry, activity and hazard components of faults (magnitude, recurrence interval, kinematics, segmentation, etc.), secondary phenomena (landslides, collapses, soil liquefaction, etc.), and mechanisms that generate them. Significant success has been achieved in palaeoseismology and archaeoseismology. New maps of the territory of Armenia and surrounding areas concerning the geological hazards have been made. In 2010, the "NorAtom" International Consortium has implemented a field (total 250 km of field routes) and laboratory works for the purpose of evaluating the potential faults of the new Armenian NPP site. A new seismotectonic model has been created out.

   Detailed seismic hazard maps for a number of settlements, especially Yerevan agglomeration, have been compiled.

   In collaboration with other IGS laboratories, the ophiolitic zones of the Lesser Caucasus are studied. The geological history of the region (subduction, collision processes) has been reviled according to new obtained data by a comprehensive study and cross-analysis. A new scheme of tectonic zoning has been proposed.

   In collaboration with the Montpellier-2 University staff, work has been done to identify and clarify the characteristics of the faults activity in the Amasia and Syunik areas. Comprehensive studies are conducted in the southern (northern Syunik) branch of the Khonarasar active segment. In pre-selected locations, palaeoseismic (digging trenches) and archaeoseismological studies are carried out, which help to complete our knowledge about past more than 15 000 year seismic history.

   Isotopic age determination was achieved in collaboration with numerous research centers (e.g. Scientific Center of Glasgow in Great Britain, UK). Numerous topographic profiles, three-dimensional surveys, and aerial surveys (using drones) were carried out.

   In frame of the project concerning to inherited structures role on the formation of the South-East Mid-Araksian depression, numerous geodynamic, geological, and geo-structural new data was obtained, which radically changed our understanding of geodynamic evolution of the depression.

   Structural geological, stratigraphic surveys in of Shirak basin conserning in particular to Arapi and Ani formations (in particular Haykavan, Gyumri Airport sites) were implemented within the framework of the 15RF-31 program concerning  to Quaternary geodynamics of the north-western Armenia. Sampling was performed on paleomagnetic, lithological, and archeological analyzes and samples of tuff and andesit for dating were taken and corresponding results have been obtained.

   In the field of applied seismology, theoretical investigations are carried out to record Earth surface movements. Taking a strong earthquake into consideration, as a result of instantaneous rupture of the earth surface, it is proposed to determine the magnitude of the velocity of the transverse seismic velocity of ground particles, depending on the earthquake magnitude. The results can be used to obtain seismic properties for construction sites in the case of the predicted M ≥ 6.0 earthquake.                                             

   Works in the field of archeoseismology and paleoseismology in the Amenhotep-III Temple in Egypt have revealed past earthquake which have destroyed temple and its colosses (large statues).  

   Co-financed by the LIA project, in cooperation with the University of Maison d'Orient (Lyon) jointly conducts archaeoseismological investigations at Erebuni Memorial. New coseismic deformations were discovered. Archaeoseismological studies have been carried out in monuments of Garni village, particularly in its central part, where the Khumaravank church complex is. The restoration work has been studied and possible conclusions about possible destructions were established. Detailed planning of important parts of the monument has been implemented.    

New results on tectonic of Noratus-Kanagegh active fault zone  

   For the first time in the Republic of Armenia, in the framework of the scientific project financed by National Committee of Science of RA, in collaboration with CARPS, in the shallow area of Lake Sevan (Noratus-Kanagegh tectonic fault zone) complex subaqueous studies were carried out. The results allow us to reveal relief characteristics as well as the presence of a tectonic fault below the recent deposits of the lake.  Based on spatial distribution of subaqueous sources and emitted gases it was possible to map new 8 km length coastal segment of the fault. The study of the emitted gas and water composition is important for understanding of the subsoil geochemical composition and ecological interactions. The preliminary gas samples composition determining with Biogas 5000 device is performed, which allows directly to measure methane, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and indirectly the nitrogen content. The discovery of subaqueous segment of active fault shows the presence of another natural risk of tsunami related to fault future rupture.  

The tectonics of the South-Eastern part of the Ararat depression  

   The Ararat depression is a Cenozoic intermountain basin located to the south of the Lesser Caucasus. Ararat depression is not a graben controlled by normal faults; rather, based on detailed observations, structures in the study area are interpreted as oblique-slip reverse and thrust faults activated in post Oligocene-Miocene times. These compressional faults resulted in the formation of asymmetric fold structures including the Lanjanist and Urts anticlines which are well expressed in the surface relief to the north of the Ararat depression. In general the structural pattern is complicated by secondary normal faults which resulted in superimposed gravitational slope processes and erosion.

   Major structures in the study area originated in a compressional setting associated with the closure of Neotethys since the latest Cretaceous. Post-collisional strike-slip faulting was linked to convergence of the Arabian and Eurasian plate margins. Pliocene and Quaternary structures, some still active, show evidence of structural inheritance.

   North-dipping, NW-SE oriented reverse faults and thrusts in this area (e.g. the Lanjanist, Urts-Aghbyur and Tigranachen faults) are interpreted to indicate post Oligocene-Miocene tectonic activity. In the Oligocene-Quaternary with an accompanying hiatus in sedimentation (Gabrielyan et al., 1981) following collision between the Arabian and Eurasian plates (e.g. Sosson et al., 2010). This hard stage of collision started in the Neogene, as also indicated by the change in orientation of the principal stress axis in the Middle Miocene from NW-SE to NE-SW (e.g. Avagyan et al., 2010).

   Continental and marine molasse in the Ararat depression was deposited during initial subsidence. The Rioni - Kura Basins to the north of the Lesser Caucasus formed at this time as the result of southward over-thrusting of the Greater Caucasus (Philip et al., 1989). The transition from marine to continental molasse sedimentation took place between the Miocene and Pliocene (Khain and Milanovsky, 1963; Philip et al., 1989).

   As a result of Late Miocene tectonic activity and uplift in the Ararat depression, regression of the Sarmatian Sea occurred and continental conditions were initiated in the Meotian (late Messinian). Observations in the northern margin of the Ararat depression show that collision-related tectonic processes continue at the present day. In this area, displacement on thrust and reverse-oblique faults continued to occur after deposition of Quaternary travertine and Wurm-age lake sediments. New structures have been detected, including superficial deformations. New structural geologic map is compiled of 1: 200,000 scale with numerous cross-sections.