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The palu-uluova strike slip basin in the East Anatolian fault system, Turkey: Its transition from the palaeotectonic to neotectonic stage

Turkish Journal of Earth Sciences (Turkish J. Earth Sci.), Vol.
21, 2012,ET
pp.AL.
547–570. Copyright ©TÜBİTAK
S. ÇOLAK
doi:10.3906/yer-1002-14
First published online 16 August 2011

The Palu-Uluova Strike-Slip Basin in the
East Anatolian Fault System, Turkey: Its Transition
from the Palaeotectonic to Neotectonic Stage
SERAP ÇOLAK1, ERCAN AKSOY1, ALİ KOÇYİĞİT2 & MURAT İNCEÖZ1
1

Fırat University, Deparment of Geological Engineering, TR–23119 Elazığ, Turkey
(E-mail: eaksoy@firat.edu.tr)
2
Middle East Technical University, Department of Geological Engineering,
Active Tectonics and Earthquake Research Laboratory, Üniversiteler Mahallesi, Dumplupınar Bulvarı,
TR–06800Ankara, Turkey
Received 16 February 2010; revised typescripts received 19 June 2010, 17 January 2011 & 16 June 2011;

accepted 08 July 2011
Abstract: The East Anatolian fault system (EAFS) is the 80-km-wide, 700-km-long, NE-trending sinistral strike-slip
fault system forming a seismically very active intracontinental transfom fault boundary. It is located between Karlıova
County in the northeast and Karataş-Samandağ counties in the southwest, and forms the southeastern boundary of the
Anatolian platelet. The Palu-Uluova basin is one of several strike-slip basins located along the EAFS. It is surrounded by
several push-ups such as the Karaömerdağı, Mastardağı and Askerdağı push-ups caused by the complexities peculiar to
strike-slip faulting. The Palu-Uluova basin consists of three sub-sections: two are NE-trending strike-slip sub-basins, the
Uluova and the Palu-Kumyazı sub-basins, while the third is a ramp basin, the E–W-trending Yolüstü basin which links
the earlier two sub-basins. The Palu-Uluova basin is characterized and shaped by a 130-m-thick neotectonic basin infill
(Palu Formation) and a series of bounding strike-slip fault zones such as the Sivrice, Adıyaman, Uluova, Elazığ, Pertek
and Yolüstü fault zones. The Palu Formation is an undeformed fluvio-lacustrine sedimentary sequence. The youngest
palaeotectonic rock-stratigraphic unit is the Upper Miocene–Lower Pliocene Çaybağı Formation, deposited in a ramp
type of intermontane basin bounded and controlled by the reverse faults. The Çaybağı Formation is intensely deformed
(steeply tilted, folded and thrust to reverse-faulted) on a regional (mappable) scale. The compressional deformation
pattern of the Çaybağı Formation is truncated, sealed and overlain with angular unconformity by the nearly horizontal
undeformed Plio–Quaternary Palu Formation. This regional angular unconformity reflects: (a) a series of pre-Late
Pliocene regional tectonic inversions (e.g., type of the tectonic regime, style of deformation and nature of magmatic
activity), and (b) the timing of the major transition from the folding and thrust to reverse faulting-dominated
palaeotectonic period into the strike-slip faulting-dominated neotectonic period is Late Pliocene.
Key Words: East Anatolian fault system, Palu-Uluova strike-slip basin, intermontane basin, Turkey

Doğu Anadolu Fay Sistemi Üzerindeki Palu-Uluova Doğrultu Atımlı Fay Havzası,
Türkiye: Paleotektonik Dönemden Neotektonik Döneme Geçiş
Özet: Doğu Anadolu Fay Sistemi (DAFS) 80 km genişlikte, 700 km uzunlukta, KD-gidişli, sismik bakımdan çok etkin,
sol yanal doğrultu atımlı ve kıta içi dönüşüm türü fay niteliğinde bir plaka sınırıdır. DAFS kuzeydoğuda Karlıova ile
güneybatıda Karataş-Samandağ ilçeleri arasında yeralır ve Anadolu plakacığının güneydoğu sınırını oluşturur. DAFS
üzerinde çok sayıda doğrultu atımlı havza yer alır. Bunlardan biri Palu-Uluova doğrultu atımlı fay havzasıdır. PaluUluova havzası, doğrultu atımlı faylanmalara özgü karmaşıklıklardan kaynaklanmış Karaömerdağı, Mastardağı ve
Askerdağı gibi bazı bindirme (ters faylanma) yükselimleriyle çevrelenir. Palu-Uluova havzası üç alt bölümden oluşur.
Bunlardan ikisi KD-gidişli doğrultu atımlı alt havza, üçüncüsü ise, D–B gidişli bir dağarası havza olup ilk iki alt havzayı
birbirine bağlar. Bunlar sırayla KD-gidişli Uluova, Palu-Kumyazı ve Yolüstü alt havzalarıdır. Palu-Uluova havzası 130 m
kalınlıkta neotektonik bir havza dolgusu (Palu Formasyonu) ve bir seri kenar fay zonu ile karakterize edilir ve şekillenir.
Önemli kenar fay zonları Adıyaman, Sivrice, Uluova, Elazığ, Pertek ve Yolüstü fay zonlarıdır. Neotektonik havza
dolgusu Palu Formasyonu ile temsil edilir. Palu Formasyonu deformasyon geçirmemiş (yatay konumlu) bir göl-akarsu
sedimanter istifinden oluşur. En genç paleotektonik birim Geç Miyosen–Erken Pliyosen yaşlı Çaybağı Formasyonu’dur.
Çaybağı Formasyonu ters faylarla sınırlanıp denetlenmiş bir dağarası havzada çökelmiştir. Çaybağı Formasyonu bölgesel
ölçekte (haritalanabilir) ve yeğince deformasyon geçirmiştir (dikçe eğimlenmiş, kıvrımlanmış ve ters faylanmıştır).
Çaybağı Formasyonu’nun sıkışmaya bağlı deformasyon biçimi, Pliyo–Kuvaterner yaşlı ve deformasyon geçirmemiş

547



PALU-ULUOVA BASIN IN THE EAST ANATOLIAN FAULT SYSTEM

olan Palu Formasyonu tarafından yer yer üstten aşındırılarak kesilmiş ve açılı bir uyumsuzlukla örtülmüştür. İki
formasyon arasındaki bölgesel ölçekli bu açılı uyumsuzluk, aşağıdaki sonuçları yansıtmaktadır: (a) Geç Pliyosen öncesi
gerçekleşmiş bir seri tektonik dönüşümü ( örneğin: tektonik rejimin türü, deformasyon biçimi ve magmatik etkinliğin
karakterindeki değişme gibi), (b) kıvrımlanma ve bindirme faylarıyla karakterize edilen paleotektonik dönemden,
doğrultu atımlı faylanma ile karakterize edeilen neotektonik döneme geçişin Geç Pliyosen’de gerçekleştiği, başka bir
deyişle neotektonik dönemin başlangıç yaşının Geç Pliyosen olduğunu yansıtmaktadır.
Anahtar Sözcükler: Doğu Anadolu fay sistemi, Palu-Uluova doğrultu atımlı fay havzası, dağarası havza, Türkiye

Introduction
One of the best-known intracontinental transform
fault systems is the NE-trending East Anatolian
fault system (EAFS) located between Karlıova in the
northeast and Samandağ-Karataş counties in the
southwest (Figure 1a). It meets the NW-trending
dextral North Anatolian fault system (NAFS) around
Karlıova and forms a conjugate system with it. The
EAFS is an intra-continental sinistral strike-slip
shear zone about 80 km wide and 700 km long. It
cuts across and sinistrally displaces the Bitlis Suture
Zone formed by the final continent-continent
collision of the Arabian plate to the south with the
Eurasian plate to the north during the Late Middle
Miocene (Şengör & Yılmaz 1981; Dewey et al. 1986).
However, the timing of transition from the fold- and
thrust-dominated to the reverse fault-dominated
palaeotectonic stage to the strike-slip faultingdominated neotectonic stage, i.e. the initiation age
of the neotectonic stage and formation of related
major structures such as the Anatolian platelet, the
NAFS and the EAFS in east-southeastern Turkey, is
still under debate. Several views on this problem have
been expressed. The first is that the Late Serravalian
continent-continent collision of the Arabian and
Eurasian plates is the initiation age of the strike-slip
neotectonic stage (Şengör 1980; Şengör et al. 1985;
Şaroğlu & Yılmaz 1987). The second idea, expressed
by Faccenna et al. (2006), is that the ‘NAFS’ resulted
from slab-detachment beneath the Bitlis Suture Zone
in the Late Miocene–Early Pliocene. They suggested
that slab detachment beneath the collisional belt
triggered: (a) accretion of slab-retreat to the west
owing to the increase in the slab pull-force, (b) the
indentation of the continent in the collisional area,
and (c) the emergence of conditions that permitted
the lateral westward escape of material and formation
of the ‘NAFS’. Although the slab-detachment model
548

seems to be a more plausible explanation for the
formation of both the Anatolian platelet and its
boundary fault systems (NAFS and EAFS), the time
range (Late Miocene–Early Pliocene) fits poorly with
the initiation age of the neotectonic regime in eastern
Anatolia, as there were a series of coeval processes
linked to the major slab-detachment event which predated the onset of a strike-slip neotectonic regime in
eastern Anatolia, indicating a Late Pliocene initiation
age of the neotectonic regime.
The third idea, suggested by Göğüş & Pysklywec
(2008), related to the nature of the neotectonic
regime on the eastern Anatolian plateau, is that the
eastern Anatolian plateau is the site of lithospheric
thinning, plateau uplift, heating and synconvergent
extension resulting from delamination of the mantle
lithosphere, i.e. the huge central section of the east
Anatolian plateau is extensional while only its
northern and southern fringes are compressional.
They also reported that the Kağızman, Tuzluca,
Hınıs, Karlıova and Muş basins are E–W-trending,
normal fault-controlled extensional basins developed
as a natural response to the synconvergent extension.
In contrast to the idea of these authors, there is a
big discrepancy between the site of extension they
suggested and the nature of both the structures and
style of deformation patterns observed in eastern
Anatolian plateau (Koçyiğit et al. 2001). The central
part of the east Anatolian plateau is shaped by en
échelon folds, E–W-trending thrust-reverse faults,
N–S-trending extensional features such as normal
faults and fissures, NE- and NW-trending strike-slip
faults and related pull-apart basins, i.e. the Kağızman,
Tuzluca, Hınıs, Karlıova and Muş basins are strikeslip fault-controlled pull-apart basins, not normal
fault-controlled grabens. These locally extensional
but regionally compressional features characterize
strike-slip faulting and the related prominent


Mediterranean Sea

FS

5

BSZ

Karlıova

7

basin infill

Malatya pull-apart basin

Lake Hazar negative flower
structure
Hazar pull-apart basin

5
6

Palu-Uluova pull-apart basin

4

Kovancılar pull-apart basin

3

rm
-Çe

Palu

2

Ge

collision zone

strike-slip fault
with normal component

strike-slip fault
with reverse component

strike-slip fault

settlement

LEGEND

one
lt z

M w : 6.1

N

1

25 km

39

KGFZ− Karlıova-Göynük
fault zone

KFZ− Karakoçan fault
zone

DSFS− Dead Sea fault
system

EAFS: East Anatolian
fault system

NAFS− North Anatolian
fault system

au

0

f


lt

BİNGÖL

Çevrimpınar

KARAÖMER DAĞI
PUSH-UP

KF
Z

Figure 2 08.03.2010

4

3

au
ik f

16.03.2010
M w : 4.1

Lice

Karakoçan pull-apart basin

Bingöl pull-apart basin

6

Lake Hazar

2

1

Atatürk Dam

an
m
ya
ı
Ad

Dam

ASKER DAĞI

Yolüstü fault zone

Keban

e
on
tz
l
u
fa

one
t z

Sivrice

0 100 200 km

N

Arabian Plate

Samandağ

EA

4

e

n
zo

ul
Uluova fa

lt

Eurasian Plate

e

zığ

Figure b

Platetet

NAFS

Karataş

Ankara

Anatolian

African Plate

au

on
lt z

Ela

fau

ELAZIĞ

zon
e

40

KG
FZ

Figure 1. (a) Simplified map showing major plates and their boundary faults in Turkey and surrounding areas. (b) Simplified map showing the Yarpuzlu-Bingöl section
of the East Anatolian fault system, its major fault zones and the studied area (box-shaped insert on the map; Koçyiğit et al. 2003).

a

f
ce

r

ive

Black Sea

ri
Siv

us subd
ypr
uct
n-C
ion z
one
gea
e
South A

b

Yarpuzlu

Karakaya Dam

Fır
at
r

t

aul

k
te
t

7

ault

Fırat
f

kil f
Bas

r
Pe

Keban Dam

ul

DSFS

fa

Aegean Sea

39

S. ÇOLAK ET AL.

549


PALU-ULUOVA BASIN IN THE EAST ANATOLIAN FAULT SYSTEM

compressional neotectonic regime rather than a
tensional tectonic regime in the eastern Anatolian
plateau. This was also indicated by the fault plane
solution diagrams of large destructive earthquakes
such as the 1966 Varto, 1971 Bingöl, 1976 Çaldıran,
1983 Horasan-Narman and 2000 Karlıova (Bingöl)
earthquakes (Tan et al. 2008).
The fourth idea (Koçyiğit et al. 2001) was based on
the field data. They stated that 9.5 Ma elapsed between
the earlier palaeotectonic stage and the onset of the
strike-slip faulting-dominated neotectonic stage in
the east Anatolian plateau. This transitional period
is an elapsed time interval during which occurred
a series of regional inversions such as the inversion
in tectonic regime, style and pattern of deformation,
nature of magmatic activity, the type of basins and
their stratigraphy, drainage system and also in the
source of seismic activity. For this reason, the Late
Pliocene initiation age of the strike-slip neotectonic
regime post-dates both the slab-detachment and
mantle lithosphere delamination (Hempton 1987;
Koçyiğit & Beyhan 1998; Koçyiğit et al. 2001).
Various inversions are well-recorded and reflected
by basin infills and their deformation patterns. For
this reason, detailed stratigraphy, sedimentology and
structural analyses of major and minor structures or
fault arrays recorded in deformed and undeformed
basin infills have a key importance in determining
the transition from the palaeotectonic stage to the
neotectonic stage. A number of basins occur along
the EAFS, as along the NAFS (Hempton et al. 1983;
Hempton & Dunne 1984; Westaway & Argar 1996;
Koçyiğit 1989; Aksoy et al. 2007). They include, from
NE to SW, the Bingöl, Karakoçan, Kovancılar, PaluUluova, Lake Hazar, Hazar and Malatya strike-slip
basins (Figure 1b). These basins have two basin infills
separated from one another by an intervening angular
unconformity, i.e. they are superimposed basins
(Koçyiğit 1996). This stratigraphical relationship and
the records of other inversions together reveal that
the strike-slip neotectonic regime emerged in eastsoutheast Turkey from the Late Pliocene onwards.
The present paper aims to introduce new field data
obtained from the Palu-Uluova strike-slip basin in
the EAFS. These data fit well with the Late Pliocene
onset age of the neotectonic regime in this basin.
The Bingöl-Yarpuzlu section of the EAFS is
structurally very complicated. In this section,
550

the master fault of the EAFS displays numerous
srike-slip complexities such as extensional to
compressional step-overs, single and double bending
and bifurcations resulting in a series of push-ups
(e.g., Karaömerdağı, Askerdağı and Mastardağı
push-ups) and strike-slip basins of dissimilar nature,
geometry and size (e.g., the Bingöl pull-apart basin,
and the Palu, Uluova, Lake Hazar, Hazar and Malatya
fault-wedge types of strike-slip basins) (Figures 1b &
2). The master fault of the EAFS begins to bifurcate
into several fault zones and single faults around Palu
County, namely the Pertek, Elazığ, Uluova, Yolüstü,
Sivrice and Adıyaman fault zones (Figure 1b). With
regard to the Palu-Uluova strike-slip basin, these
structures are described in more detail below. Apart
from these, other significant structures include the
Baskil fault, the Lice-Çermik fault zones, the Genç
fault and the Fırat fault. Of these the first-named
two form the northwestern and the southeastern
boundaries of the EAFS respectively (Figure 1b).
However, these latter four structures are outside the
scope of the present paper.
Stratigraphic Outline
Palaeotectonic Units
Based on their age and deformation pattern, the rocks
exposed in and around the Palu-Uluova basin can be
classified into two categories: (1) palaeotectonic rock
units, and (2) neotectonic rock units. Palaeotectonic
units are the intensely deformed (folded and thrust
to reverse-faulted) rocks of pre-Late Pliocene age.
Palaeotectonic units consist of the Jurassic–Lower
Cretaceous Guleman ophiolites, the Senonian Elazığ
magmatic rocks, Maastrichtian–Upper Palaeocene
Hazar Group, the Middle Eocene Maden Group, the
Middle–Upper Eocene Kırkgeçit Formation and the
Upper Miocene–Lower Pliocene Çaybağı Formation
(Sungurlu et al. 1985; Hempton 1985; Herece & Akay
1992; Aksoy 1993; Çelik 2003; Koç Taşgın 2009).
All but the latter rock-stratigraphic unit (Çaybağı
Formation) which is the youngest palaeotectonic unit,
are outside the scope of the present paper. However,
in order to distinguish between the palaeotectonic
units and the neotectonic units, the stratigraphy and
deformation pattern of the Çaybağı Formation will
be described in more detail.


S. ÇOLAK ET AL.

Çaybağı Formation
The Çaybağı Formation, first named by Türkmen
(1988), was later studied in more stratigraphical
and sedimentological detail by Koç Taşgın (2009).
It comprises a thick (measured maximum thickness
is 1987 m) fluvio-lacustrine sedimentary sequence
made up of numerous lithofacies (Figure 3). Both the
top and bottom contact relationships, particularly its
lower half and bottom contact relationship with older
rocks, are poorly exposed owing to superimposed
palaeotectonic and neotectonic structures such as
overturned folds, reverse and strike-slip faults within
the zone of active deformation (East Anatolian
fault system) in the study area. Therefore, only
faulted, dissected and exposed parts of the Çaybağı
Formation could be measured in the study area (a in
Figure 2; Figure 3). For this reason, the thickness of
the Çaybağı Formation varies from ~2 km to 0.8 km
in places. However, its normal stratigraphical basal
contact relationships with older rocks are well exposed
in other areas including Perisuyu River, Darıkent,
Akpazar and Ekinözü settlements located outside
the study area from 11 to 34 km north-northwest
of Palu County (Koçyiğit 2003). At these localities,
the Çaybağı Formation overlies with angular
unconformity a shallow marine to fluvial sedimentary
sequence comprising a sandstone-marl and
Nummulite-bearing limestone alternation (Kırkgeçit
Formation) of Middle–Late Eocene age (Türkmen
1991), and it displays both a lateral and vertical
transitional contact relationships with the Middle
Miocene–Lower Pliocene volcano-sedimentary
Karabakır Formation (Çetindağ 1985; Sungurlu et al.
1985; Koçyiğit 2003). In the same region, both the
Karabakır and the Çaybağı formations are underlain
comformably by a flysch sedimentary sequence
(‘Kuşaklı Flysch’) with abundant intercalations
and olistholiths of Aquitanian–Burdigalian reef
structures (Koçyiğit 2003). Volcanic rocks (dacite,
andesite, rhyolite, basalt and their pyroclastites) of
the Karabakır Formation were previously reported
to be the west-southwestern continuation of the
Upper Miocene–Lower Pliocene Solhan Volcanics
(Seymen & Aydın 1972; Yılmaz et al. 1987; Ercan et
al. 1990). Consequently, the Çaybağı Formation is
not exposed within the Uluova basin due to a thick
cover (Quaternary neotectonic infill) and water
accumulation behind the Keban Dam. In addition,

it may have been faulted and considerably downthrown.
For easy understanding of the various lithofacies
of the Çaybağı Formation and their depositional
settings, the measured stratigraphical section
(Figure 3) of the Çaybağı Formation and other
measured sections carried out outside the study
area were compiled, modified and simplified into
four members. These are, from bottom to top, the
Hacısamdere, the Yılankaya, the Ziyarettepe and
the Arılar members (Figure 4). The Hacısamdere
member is the lowest facies of the Çaybağı
Formation. It overlies with angular unconformity
the Upper Eocene–Lower Oligocene clastics and
Nummulite-bearing limestones exposed northeast
of Palu, but outside the study area (Sungurlu et al.
1985). The Hacısamdere member is a fining-upward
sequence deposited by a fluvial system. It consists
of polygenetic basal conglomerate and sandstone at
the bottom but an alternation of siltstone, mudstone,
channel conglomerate and claystone towards the top
(Figure 5). The measured thickness of this member is
about 350 m (1 in Figure 4). The Yılankaya member
consists of a thick-bedded conglomerate, sandstone
and red mudstone alternation. It displays welldeveloped graded bedding, planar cross-bedding
and pebble imbrication sequence about 200 m thick
which indicates a braided fluvial depositional system.
Both the Hacısamdere and the Yılanlı members
characterize marginal facies comprising the lower
part of the Çaybağı Formation. These two members
are not exposed within the Palu-Uluova basin owing
to faulting and deep burial. However, they display
both lateral and vertical gradations with the Ziyaret
Tepe member outside the study area (Figure 4).
The Ziyarettepe member is the most widespread
unit in the study area (Figure 2). Its measured
thickness is about 1175 m (3 in Figure 4). It is
represented by a thick fluvio-lacustrine sedimentary
sequence composed of an alternation of cross-bedded
conglomerate, cross-bedded to parallel laminated
sandstone, red mudstone, clayey lacustrine limestone
and marl with coal and tuffite intercalations. In
addition the Ziyaret Tepe member is full of softsedimentary features such as slump folds, broken
formation, normal and reverse growth faults, load
casts, flame structures, sand dykes and convolute
551


552

Kavaktepe

ca

UO

VA

S
BA

basin infill

Siv

IN

rice

e

e
Lak

1647

E

Ha

zar

Ýlemi

Gezin

va
uo
l
U

d

38 30

an
am
y
ı
Ad

Kumyazý

Siv

Yolüstü

a

N

ne
zo

o
lt z

5 km

lt
fau

au
ef
ric

Öre e
n

PA
k
nci

a

MF

LU

SI

N MF

b

Palu

strike-slip fault
strike-slip fault
with normal component
strike-slip fault
with reverse component
oblique-slip normal fault
oblique-slip reverse fault
master fault (Y-shear)
settlements
location of measured
sections in Figure 7

Baltaşı

BA

ASKER DAĞI PUSH-UP

Yolüstü fault zone

Hazar Basin

c

2171

zon
e

e
on
tl z
u
fa

Aşağı İçme

Keban Dam Lake

ne
t zo

faul
lazığ

ult

k fa

Per
te

Figure 2. Simplified map showing the Palu-Uluova strike-slip basin and its bounding faults.

Ballı

UL

upper Pliocene−Pleistocene
Palu Formation
upper Pliocene
travertine deposits
upper Miocene−Lower Pliocene
Çaybağı Formation
39 15
pre-Upper Miocene
basement rocks

Quaternary

alluvial fan

PALU-ULUOVA BASIN IN THE EAST ANATOLIAN FAULT SYSTEM


400

alluvial fan

PALU
FORMATION

S. ÇOLAK ET AL.

EXPLANATIONS

horizontal lamination

800

Gastropoda
Lamellibranch
Lamellibranch fragments
Ostracoda
macrophyte fragments
alluvial fan
(distal fan)

300

palaeocurrent direction

imbrication
lag deposit
conglomerate

FORMATION

ÇAYBAĞI

200

rhizoliths

gravel orientation

matrix-supported conglomerate
planar cross-stratified conglomerate
sandstone

ÇAYBAĞI

FORMATION

delta front - shallow - open lacustrine

700

macrophyte

600

lenticular shaped sandstone
planar cross-stratified sandstone
trough cross-stratified sandstone
ripple cross-laminated sandstone
red mudstone

delta front - open lacustrine

100

500

siltstone
grey claystone
carbonaceous claystone
clayey limestone
marlstone
limestone

Keban
Dam
Lake

fmc 210
sand gravel

clay
silt

0

clay
silt

meter

coal

fmc
sand

21530
gravel

Figure 3. Measured stratigraphic column of the Çaybağı and Palu formations (2 km N of Yolüstü village). For location of the
section, see Figure 2 (modified and simplified from Koç Taşgın 2009).

553


Thick.

812

Lithology

(m)

Description

4

4− alluvial fan facies association represented by
massive conglomerate, red mudstone and grey-red
mudstone alternation

4

2 200

3 1175

3− delta top, delta front, shallow lacustrine and
open lacustrine facies association represented by
clayey limestone, marl, conglomerate, sandstone,
mudstone with organic material, claystone and
peat

2− low-sinuosity river facies association
. represented by conglomerate, sandstone
..... and red mudstone
.
.
. .

3

1 350

total: 1987

2− Yılankaya Member
3− Ziyaret Tepe Member
1− Hacısam Dere Member

Çaybağı Formation

Unit

2
. . . .
... .. .. .
.. .....

. . .
. . .. .. ..
. .. .. . .
.
. . . . .

Figure 4. Generalized stratigraphic column of the Çaybağı formation.

554

1− braided river facies association represented by
conglomerate and sandstone

1

preMiocene

Late Miocene − Early Pliocene

Age

4− Arılar Member

PALU-ULUOVA BASIN IN THE EAST ANATOLIAN FAULT SYSTEM

angular unconformity
older rocks: mostly ophiolitic, magmatic and
sedimantary rocks


S. ÇOLAK ET AL.

b

a

Figure 5. General view of the red mudstone (a) and conglomerate (b) alternation comprising the Hacısamdere member of the
Çaybağı formation (2 km NE of Yolüstü village, view to NW). For location of the photograph, see Figure 2.

bedding which indicate the fault-controlled
sedimentation of the Çaybağı Formation (Hempton
& Dewey 1983; Koç Taşgın & Türkmen 2009). Both
the lithofacies and syn-sedimentary structures in the
Ziyaret Tepe member reveal that it was deposited
in delta front and shallow to open lake depositional
settings (Figure 3).
The fourth and final member is the Arılar member,
measured to be about 812 m thick (4 in Figure 4),
which comprises the uppermost part of the Çaybağı
Formation. It is a coarsening-upward sequence
and consists of a matrix-supported, polygenetic
boulder-block conglomerate and red-grey mudstone
alternation. Pebbles in the conglomerates reach up
to 65 cm in diameter and have been derived from
the northerly located Senonian magmatic rocks and
the Middle–Upper Eocene Kırkgeçit Formation.
The various lithofacies types comprising the Arılar
member reveal that it was deposited by braided to
meandering high energy fluvial systems including
alluvial fans and flood plain.

Consequently, the entire Çaybağı Formation
is characterized by a thick fluvio-lacustrine
sedimentary sequence about 2 km thick. It is assigned
a Late Miocene–Early Pliocene age, based on its rich
fossil content, including Candona neglecta Sars,
Candona (Candona) paralella pannonica Zalanyi,
Heterocypris salina (Bradyi), Cyprideis sublitoralis
(Pokorny), Cyprideis anatolica Bassiouni, Cyprideis
(Cyprideis) anatolica Bassiouni, Cyprideis pannonica
(Mehes), Cyprideis torosa (Jones), Valvata debilis
Fuchs, Valvata piscinalis (Müler), Hydrobia ventrosa
Montfort, Margaritafera (Pseudounio) flabellata
trajani Michailovsky, Potomida (Potomida) sibinensis
(Penecke), Unio (Crassunio) batavus (Nillsson), Unio
aff. hilberi Penecke, identified at its different levels
(Koç Taşgın 2009). This age is also supported by some
other field observations. As mentioned previously,
the Çaybağı Formation rests conformably on the
Aquitanian–Burdigalian ‘Kuşaklı Flysch’ and displays
both vertical and lateral gradations into the volcanosedimentary sequence of the Upper Miocene–Lower
555


PALU-ULUOVA BASIN IN THE EAST ANATOLIAN FAULT SYSTEM

Pliocene Karabakır Formation in the north and
outside the study area (Sungurlu et al. 1985; Koçyiğit
2003). The radiometric age of the youngest volcanic
rocks comprising the uppermost horizon of the
Karabakır Formation is 4.1±0.32 Ma (Sanver 1968),
showing that the Karabakır Formation extends into
the Lower Pliocene.
Neotectonic Units (Strike-slip Basin Infill)
Except for the units deformed in the pressure ridges,
these are, in general, nearly horizontal, undeformed
and weakly lithified to unconsolidated sedimentary
deposits of Plio–Quaternary age. Neotectonic units
are of two major categories: (1) travertine, and
(2) fluvio-lacustrine sedimentary sequence (Palu
Formation). They mostly occur in the strike-slip
basin (Figure 6).
Travertines – Based on the age, degree of
lithification and the depositional setting, travertines
exposed in the study area are either older and highly
lithified travertines (Baltaşı travertines) or actively
forming recent travertines. Older travertines are well
exposed as uplifted and fault-suspended outcrops
ranging in area from a few 10 m2 to a few km2 along
the fault segments comprising the northeastern parts
of the Adıyaman fault zone around Baltaşı village
(Figure 2). These are laminated, thick-bedded to
massive, highly porous and iron-rich carbonate
accumulations precipitated from the CaCO3-rich
ground water springs along fault segments and open
cracks (fissure ridges) formed during the initial stage
of strike-slip faulting. They overlie with angular
unconformity the underlying Jurassic–Lower
Cretaceous ophiolitic rocks (Guleman ophiolite),
but have a free erosion surface at the top. The Baltaşı
travertines begin with basal thin and non-mappable
basal clastics, which are overlain by an alternation
of thin- and thick-bedded to massive travertine
horizons up to about 35 m thick around Baltaşı
village. Development of the Baltaşı travertines has
now ceased. The Baltaşı travertines are one of the
lithofacies formed during the early development
stage of the strike-slip basin. Later, the Baltaşı
travertines were uplifted, dissected and exposed as
fault-suspended terraces at higher elevations above
the present basin floor, while their lateral clastic
counterparts are being locally deformed and thrown
556

into folds and reverse faults along the pressure ridges
bounded by the strike-slip faults with reverse-slip
component. One such well-developed pressure ridge
is exposed on Orta Hill located approximately 2 km
south-southwest of Örencik village. This locality
could not be indicated on the Figure 2 owing to the
small scale of the map.
Based on their structure, texture, origin,
stratigraphical position, and tectonic setting, the
Baltaşı travertines can be correlated with both
the Kızılca Travertine exposed in Kızılca village
(Karakoçan-Elazığ) (Koçyiğit 2003) and the
Hüdaihamamı Travertine (Sandıklı-Kütahya) (Saraç
2003). The Kızılca travertine is also laminated to
thick bedded, iron-rich, nearly horizontal and 80
m thick. It overlies with angular unconformity
the Upper Miocene–Lower Pliocene Karabakır
Formation volcanics at its base, while it is overlain
conformably by Early Quaternary coarse-grained
terrace conglomerate. The Hüdaihamamı travertines
are likewise thick-bedded to massive, overlie
with an angular unconformity the Palaeozoic
metamorphics beneath, and display both vertical
and lateral transitions into Plio–Quaternary fluvial
conglomerates. A mammalian fossil,
Mimomys
Plioacenicus, which indicates a Upper Pliocene
horizon (MN 16), was identified within these fluvial
clastics (Saraç 2003). Consequently, a relative Late
Pliocene–early Quaternary age can also be assigned
to the Baltaşı travertine comparable with both the
Kızılca and Hüdaihamamı travertines.
The second category of travertines is actively
growing carbonate precipitations exposed along the
master fault of the Sivrice fault zone cutting across the
basin floor. These travertines occur in diverse-sized
(a few m2 to 300 m2) and fault-parallel aligned patchlike outcrops located approximately 7 km west of the
Kumyazı village (c in Figure 2). These are the fissureridge type of travertine made up of partly lithified,
laminated to massive and highly porous Quaternary
carbonate precipitations. These conformably overlie
the fan-apron deposits beneath, and they have a
free depositional to erosional surface at the top. The
measured thicknes of the actively growing travertines
is about 8 m (c in Figure 2 & Figure 7c).
Palu Formation – First recognized and named by
Çetindağ (1985) in Palu County, it consists mainly


S. ÇOLAK ET AL.

Lithology

I N F I L L )
( B A S I N
U N I T S
N E O T E C T O N I C

braided river
deposits
travertine

35

angular unconformity

pre-Late
Pliocene
1

fan delta
deposits

lacustrine
deposits

140

PA L U F O R M AT I O N
BALTAŞI

LATE
PLIOCENE

L AT E P L I O C E N E − P L E I S T O C E N E

HOLOCENE

fluvial deposits

(m)

travertine

Age Unit Thick.

older rock (palaeotectonic units)
2

3

4

5

6.

Figure 6. Generalized stratigraphic column of the Palu
Formation. 1– matrix-supported conglomerate,
2– planar cross-bedded conglomerate, 3– trough
cross-bedded conglomerate, 4– planar cross-bedded
sandstone, 5– trough cross-bedded sandstone, and 6–
travertine.

of coarse clastics with finer-grained lacustrine
sedimentary intercalations (Figure 6). The Palu

Formation is well-exposed along the northnortheastern margin of the Palu-Uluova basin,
particularly in the west of Palu County. It rests with
angular unconformity on the erosional surface of the
intensely deformed (steeply tilted to folded) various
facies of the palaeotectonic units (Figures 7f & 8). The
basal clastics representing the lowermost facies of the
Palu Formation consists of unsorted, polygenetic,
weakly lithified and matrix-supported boulderblock conglomerates. Pebbles to blocks (up to 1 m
in diameter) are partly well-rounded to sub-rounded
and partly angular clasts of mostly ophiolitic rocks
such as spilite, peridotite, serpentinite, radiolarite,
recrystallized limestone, sandstone, andesite, and
basalt set in a sandy matrix. These basal clastic rocks
are succeeded conformably in turn by an alternation
of coarse-grained conglomerate, sandstone, troughto planar cross-bedded sandstone, planar- to troughcross-bedded conglomerate (Figures 6 & 9). These
well-bedded and nearly flat-lying coarse clastics
are overlain by another diagnostic facies (fandelta deposit) (Winsemann et al. 2009) made up
of an alternation of claystone, mudstone, siltstone,
rippled sandstone and Gilbert-type cross-bedded
conglomerate (Figures 6 & 10). The thickness of the
Gilbert-type cross-bedded conglomerate packages
may reach up to 4 m in places. The uppermost part of
the Palu Formation consists of weakly consolidated to
loose mudstone, sandstone and conglomerate lenses.
Although the topmost part of the Palu Formation is a
free erosional surface, it is also overlain by a series of
fault-parallel aligned alluvial fans along the marginboundary faults of the Palu-Uluova strike-slip-basin
(Figures 2 & 7b–e). The total thickness of the Palu
Formation is 130 m, based on the measured sections
and geological cross-section studies.
No fossils could be identified in the Palu
Formation. However, as previously explained,
outside the study area it conformably overlies the
Upper Pliocene Kızılca travertine, which is both
the litho- and bio-stratigraphical equivalent of the
Baltaşı travertines in the study area. In addition, both
the non-deformed pattern and the stratigraphical
relationship (angular unconformity) between the
nearly horizontal undeformed Palu Formation and
the intensely deformed (steeply tilted, folded and
reverse-faulted) Upper Miocene–Lower Pliocene
Çaybağı Formation together reveal that the relative
age of the Palu Formatiın is Plio–Quaternary.
557


Late Pliocene − Pleistocene

Quaternar y

Unit

a

Keban
Dam

north of Yolüstü village
(modified and simplified
from Koç Taşgın 2009)

0 m

120

f

AU

b

near southwest
of Palu town

TQp

c

southwest of
Kumyazı village



d

upper
Cretaceous
volcanic
rocks

Yolüstü village

e

west of
İlemi village

fluvio-lacustrine sedimentary

braided river deposits:
poligenetic basal
conglomerate, sandstone,
channel conglomerate and
claystone.

meandering river and flood
plain deposits:
thick-bedded conglomerate,
sandstone and red mudstone
alternation.

cross-bedded conglomerate,
cross-bedded to parallel
laminated sandstone, red
mudstone.

0 m sequence:

20

alluvial fan deposits:
matrix-supported, polygenetic,
boulder-block conglomerates
and red-grey mudstone
alternation.

fan delta and alluvial fan
deposits, travertine:
unsorted, polygenetic, weakly
lithified and matrix-supported
boulder-block conglomerates;
claystone, mudstone, siltstone.

Explanation

Figure 7. Correlation chart of the Palu-Uluova basin; (a–e) are measured stratigraphic columns; (f) field photograph showing the angular unconformity
(AU) between the Çaybağı Formation (Tç) and the Palu Formation (TQp).

Late Miocene − Early Pliocene

B a s i n i n fi l l
Pa l u Fo r m a t i o n

558

Çaybağı Formation

Age

PALU-ULUOVA BASIN IN THE EAST ANATOLIAN FAULT SYSTEM


S. ÇOLAK ET AL.

AU

TQp


Figure 8. Close-up view of the angular unconformity (AU) between the steeply-tilted Çaybağı Formation (Tç) and the nearly
horizontal Palu Formation (TQp) (2 km NW of Palu). For location of the photograph, see Figure 2.

The early deposited fluvial clastics of the Palu
Formation are full of syn-sedimentary growth
faults, mostly strike-slip and normal faults. Another
diagnostic lithofacies of the neotectonic infill is
the travertine, precipitated from the CaCO3-rich
water circulating along the strike-slip faults and
emerging as springs. Early deposited boulder-block
conglomerates occur in two patterns: pressure ridges
and fault terraces. Either they have been deformed
into a series of strike-slip fault-bounded lensoidal
pressure ridges with long axes parallel or slightly
oblique to the general trend of the master fault, or
both the travertine and the early deposited boulderblock conglomerates have been elevated and dissected
as fault-bounded terraces as a natural response to the
activity on the marginal strike-slip faults of the PaluUluova basin. Hence, fault-parallel alluvial fans have

also been degraded. Consequently, the combination
of type of syn-depositional growth fault features,
fault terraces, pressure ridges and degraded alluvial
fans together reflect strike-slip faulting-induced
deformation in the Palu-Uluova basin during the
Plio–Quaternary neotectonic period. At present, this
is also indicated by the fault plane solution diagrams
of the fault-related earthquakes, which reveal the
neotectonic configuration of the Palu-Uluova
complex strike-slip basin (Figures 1b & 2).
Structural Geology
Palu-Uluova Basin
The morphotectonic characteristics of this basin
were previously studied for a Master Thesis by Çolak
559


PALU-ULUOVA BASIN IN THE EAST ANATOLIAN FAULT SYSTEM

Figure 9. Close-up view of the nearly horizontal conglomerate-sandstone alternation comprising the Palu Formation (5 km NE of
Yolüstü village). For location of the photograph, see Figure 2.

(2007). The Palu-Uluova depression is a two-armed
strike-slip basin 78 km long and between 5 and 14 km
wide, located between Palu County in the northeast
and Ballıca village in the southwest (Figure 2). Based
on its nature and general trend, the Palu-Uluova
basin is divided into three sub-sections. These are,
from east to west, the Palu-Kumyazı section, the
Yolüstü section and the Uluova section. The PaluKumyazı section is a NE-trending fault wedge-type
of strike-slip basin about 6 km wide and 26 km long
located along the Sivrice fault zone and its master
fault (Figure 2). The Uluova section is a NE-trending
strike-slip basin 14 km wide and 40 km long located
along the Elazığ and Uluova fault zones between
Ballıca-Kavaktepe and Aşağı İçme-İlemi settlements.
The intervening Yolüstü section, which links the
other two sections, is an E–W-trending ramp-type of
560

basin about 4 km wide and 12 km long located along
the Yolüstü fault zone (Figure 2). Consequently, the
Palu-Uluova basin is controlled by several fault zones
of dissimilar trends and nature. For this reason, it
has a complex evolutionary history. The angular
unconformity, folds, reverse faults and the major
fault zones to single faults which took a key role in
the evolutionary history of the Palu-Uluova strikeslip basin are described and documented below.
Palaeotectonic Structures:
Unconformities

Folds

and

Angular

In general, angular unconformities indicate the end of
an earlier tectonic regime and seal the palaeotectonic
regime-induced deformation pattern (Figures 7f &
8). In this frame, the latest palaeotectonic unit, the


S. ÇOLAK ET AL.

Gcb

Ld

Figure 10. Close-up view of the fan-delta deposits characterizing the Palu Formation. Gcb–. Gilbert-type of cross-bedding, Ld–.
Lacustrine deposits (2 km NW of Palu). For location of the photograph, see Figure 2.

Upper Miocene–Lower Pliocene Çaybağı Formation,
has been steeply tilted and deformed into a series
of anticlines and synclines trending E–W with
limb angles of 20–80° (Figure 11). The Çaybağı
Formation is folded both in the study area located
along the EAFS, and also outside the study area and
the EAFS (Koçyiğit 2003). The same formation has
also been thrust or reverse-faulted in places (Koç
Taşgın & Türkmen 2009). This deformation, caused
by the N–S-directed intra-continental convergence
(Koçyiğit et al. 2001), occurred towards the end of
the deposition of the last and youngest palaeotectonic
unit, the Upper Miocene–Lower Pliocene Çaybağı
Formation. This is indicated by both the regressive
nature of the topmost sedimentary package of the
Çaybağı Formation and the kinematic analysis of
mappable folds developed in it (Figures 11 & 12).
In contrast, the Plio–Quaternary Palu Formation,
which rests with angular unconformity on the
Çaybağı Formation, is weakly consolidated and
nearly horizontal, i.e. it experienced no regional
deformation except for the pressure ridges and the
fault-bounded margins of the strike-slip basin. This
clear contrast in age and deformation patterns of the

units beneath and above the angular unconformity
reveals strongly an inversion in the type of the
tectonic regime and related style of deformation
(folding and thrust to reverse faulting-dominated
palaeotectonic regime) and the first emergence of a
new tectonic regime, namely the strike-slip faultingrelated neotectonic regime in the study area.
Neotectonic Structures: Strike-Slip Faults
Sivrice Fault Zone (SFZ) – This is a sinistral strike-slip
fault zone 3–6 km wide, 138 km long and trending
N60°E, located between Palu in the northeast and
Yarpuzlu in the southwest (Figure 1b). 56 km of it
traverse the study area (Figure 2). The Sivrice fault
zone, which also contains the master fault of the
EAFS, consists of closely-spaced, parallel to subparallel and diverse-sized (0.2–18 km) numerous
fault segments. However, most of the fault segments
could not be plotted on the map due to its small scale.
Fault segments cut across the older ophiolitic rocks,
displacing them, mostly sinistrally, up to 6.5–9 km
(Aksoy et al. 2007) and tectonically juxtaposing them
with the younger Plio–Quaternary strike-slip basin
561


PALU-ULUOVA BASIN IN THE EAST ANATOLIAN FAULT SYSTEM

Figure 11. General view of a mappable asymmetrical fold developed within the Çaybağı Formation (2 km NE of Yolüstü village,
view to W). For location of the photograph, see Figure 2.

infill. The Palu-Kumyazı section of the Palu-Uluova
basin is located along the northeasternmost part of
the Sivrice fault zone and controlled by numerous
strike-slip fault segments.
Fault-parallel and actively growing travertine
occurrences, elongated ridges with long axes subparallel or oblique to the master fault, shutter ridges,
sag ponds, triangular facets, tectonic juxtaposition
of older rocks with Quaternary basin infill, long
and linear fault valleys, deflected and S-shaped
bent drainage system (Figure 13), well-preserved
slickensides recorded in the Plio–Quaternary Palu
Formation (Figure 14), together with steeply sloping
fault scarps are both the morphotectonic and faultplane related criteria observed within the Sivrice fault
zone. All of these reveal that the Sivrice fault zone
is an active zone of deformation characterized by
sinistral strike-slip faulting. The Sivrice fault zone, or
at least its master fault and some other fault segments
closely-spaced to it, are also seismically active. This
is indicated by both historical and recent seismic
562

activity, such as the historical 3 May 1874 ground
surface rupture-forming earthquake, and the recent 2
February 2007 Mw= 5.7 Sivrice and the 8 March 2010
Mw= 6.1 Palu earthquakes (Ambraseys & Jackson
1998; Güneyli 2002; Çetin et al. 2003; KOERİ 2007;
Tan et al. 2010). In addition, both the stereographic
plot (Figure 15) of slip-plane data and the fault plane
solution diagrams of the recent 2 February 2007
Sivrice and the 3 March 2010 Palu earthquakes along
the Sivrice fault zone indicate that it is an active
sinisral strike-slip fault zone governed by a NNE–
SSW-oriented compressive principal stress system
(σ1) (Figure 1) in and adjacent to the study area (see
Aksoy et al. 2007 for more information about the
Sivrice fault zone).
Adıyaman Fault Zone (AFZ) – This 3-km-wide,
210-km-long and N50°E-trending active zone of
deformation is characterized by sinistral strike-slip
faulting. It marks and controls the southeastern
margin of the Palu-Kumyazı section of the PaluUluova strike-slip basin (Figure 2). The Adıyaman


S. ÇOLAK ET AL.

Northern Limb
0

0

N 20 E, 30 NW
0
0
N 55 E, 32 NW
0
0
N 65 E, 39 NW
0
0
N 67 E, 28 NW
0
0
N 70 E, 38 NW
0
0
N 70 E, 38 NW
0
0
N 80 E, 38 NW
0
0
N 80 E, 40 NW
0
0
N 80 E, 41 NW
0
0
N 85 E, 35 NW
0
0
N 55 W, 25 NE
0
0
N 65 W, 42 NE
0
0
N 70 W, 40 NE
0
0
N 75 W, 34 NE
0
0
N 80 W, 40 NE
0
0
N 80 W,48 NE

Southern Limb
0

0

N 78 E, 75 SE
0
0
N 80 E, 60 SE
0
0
N 80 E, 65 SE
0
0
N 80 E, 70 SE
0
0
N 82 E, 68 SE
0
0
N 83 E, 71 SE
0
0
N 85 E, 76 SE
0
0
N 85 E, 80 SE
0
0
N 87 E, 72 SE
0
E-W, 75 S
0
E-W, 75 S
0
E-W, 78 S
0
0
N 80 W, 70 SW
0
0
N 82 W, 73 SW

Figure 12. (a) Attitudes of bedding planes, and (b) poles to
bedding planes comprising the limbs of a fold. Large
arrows facing each other indicate operation direction
of the principal stress at the end of the deposition
of the Upper Miocene–Lower Pliocene Çaybağı
Formation.

fault zone splays off the master fault of the EAFS
just west of Palu County (Figure 2) and then runs
SW across both the study area and beyond, as far as
just east of Narlı Town (Kahramanmaraş) (Aksoy
et al. 2007). The Adıyaman fault zone consists of
numerous closely-spaced, parallel to sub-parallel and
variable-sized fault segments. Fault parallel travertine
occurrences, long deep and narrow depressions (fault
corridors), very young pull-apart basins (e.g., Hazar

Figure 13. Close up view of the deflected and S-shaped bent
stream course indicating sinistral strike-slip faulting
cutting the Plio–Quaternary Palu formation (S
of Örencik village, view to N). For location of the
photograph, see Figure 2.

Figure 14. Close-up view of the strike-slip faulting-induced
slickenside (near Örencik village). For location of the
photograph, see Figure 2.

pull-apart basin), a well-developed anastomosing
pattern peculiar to strike-slip faulting, linear to
steeply sloping fault scarps, strips of intensely sheared,
crushed to pulverized fault gouge and deflected, bent
or offset (up to 1.5 to 9 km) drainage systems such as
the Caru and Maden streams (outside the study area)
and the Euphrates River are common morphotectonic
criteria indicating both the existence and activity of
the Adıyaman fault zone. Some of fault segments
of the Adıyaman fault zone were reactivated and
moved by both the 3 May 1874 devastating historical
563


PALU-ULUOVA BASIN IN THE EAST ANATOLIAN FAULT SYSTEM

Strike
0500
0470
0430
3170
0070
3580
0690
0420
0510

Dip
740 S
870 S
850 S
880 W
750 E
770 E
650 W
560 S
680 W

Rake
200 NW
010 NW
030 NW
10 0 NW
150 NW
150 NW
30 0 NW
330 NW
230 NW

N M

local extention direction
local contration direction

Figure 15 . (a) Slip-plane data and (b) Stereographic plot of slip-plane data on the Schmidt Lower hemisphere net. Large arrows
facing each other indicate operation direction of principal stress or localized shortening direction in the neotectonic
regime.

earthquake and a series of recent seismic events with
magnitudes of Mw= 2.5–4.3 (KOERİ 2007).
Uluova Fault Zone (UFZ) – This is a NE-trending
active zone of deformation about 5 km wide and 60
km long characterized by strike-slip faulting. It is
confined in the area between the Yolüstü fault zone
in the northeast and the Fırat fault in the southwest,
outside of the study area (Figures 1b & 2). The Uluova
fault zone forms a mountain front marking the
northwestern slope of the Mastardağı horst (Figure
2). It marks and controls the southwestern margin
of the Uluova section of the Palu-Uluova strike-slip
basin. The Uluova fault zone consists of numerous
closely-spaced, NE- to NW-trending conjugate
dextral to sinistral strike-slip fault segments (Figure
2) cutting the Jurassic–Lower Cretaceous Guleman
ophiolitic rocks and the Upper Cretaceous–Paleocene
Hazar complex, displacing them up to 2 km in a
dominantly left-lateral direction and tectonically
juxtaposing various facies of older rocks with each
other and with the Plio–Quaternary basin infill. The
Uluova fault zone also contains a limited number
of NNW-trending oblique-slip normal faults and
WSW- to WNW-trending oblique-slip reverse fault
segments. Steeply sloping fault scarps, triangular
facets, fault-parallel aligned and scoured alluvial fans
(Figure 16), deflected and S-shaped stream courses,
strips of intensely sheared and crushed fault rocks
and the tectonic juxtaposition of older ophiolitic
rocks with the Quaternary alluvial sediments are
564

common morphotectonic criteria which indicate
both existence and activity of the fault segments
comprising the Uluova fault zone.
Elazığ Fault Zone (EFZ) – This is a NE-trending
zone of active sinistral strike-slip faulting about 8 km
wide and 54 km long. The Elazığ fault zone is confined
to an area between the NW-trending dextral Pertek
fault zone and a NNW-trending oblique-slip normal
fault in the northwest (Figure 1b). An approximately
35-km-long portion crosses the study area. The Elazığ
fault zone marks and controls the northwestern
margin of the Uluova section of the Palu-Uluova
strike-slip basin (Figure 2). It consists of numerous
NE-trending closely-spaced, parallel-subparallel,
variable-sized (0.3–15 km) fault segments. They cut
Senonian Elazığ magmatic rocks and tectonically
juxtapose them with the Plio–Quaternary basin
infill (Figure 2). The steeply sloping and linear fault
scarps, triangular facets, basinward facing step-like
topography (Figure 16), offset drainage system (e.g.,
the Fırat River and some of its tributaries are offset by
up to 5 km sinistrally by fault segments of the Elazığ
fault zone (Figure 1b), fault-parallel aligned alluvial
fans with apices against the fault scarp and the
tectonic juxtaposition of older rocks with Quaternary
deposits, are common morphotectonic criteria for
both the existence and activity of the Elazığ fault
zone. This is also proved by epicentre distribution of
small seismic events throughout the fault zone (Tan
et al. 2010).


S. ÇOLAK ET AL.

Ke

alluvial fan

Figure 16. General view of the tectonic juxtaposition between older rocks in the background (Ke– Senonian Elazığ
magmatic complex) and the scoured Holocene alluvial fan in the foreground (south of Yolüstü village,
view to SE). For location of the photograph, see Figure 2.

Pertek Fault Zone (PFZ) – This is another NW
to WNW-trending zone of active deformation 5–9
km wide, 70 km long and dominated by strikeslip faulting with a minor reverse-slip component.
It extends from west of Ovacık County in the
northwest (outside the study area) to Palu County
in the southeast. Its 33-km-long south-eastern
part traverses the study area (Figure 2). The Pertek
fault zone links the NE-trending Ovacık sinistral
strike-slip fault system with the East Anatolian fault
system and acts as a transfer structure between these
major structures. It consists of numerous closely- to
medium-spaced, variable-sized (2–15 km), parallel
to sub-parallel NW-trending dextral strike-slip fault
segments and WNW-trending strike-slip faults with
reverse component (Figure 2). They cut and form
a conjugate system with the NE-trending sinistral
strike-slip fault segments including both the Uluova
and Elazığ fault zones. They also intersect with the

E–W-trending reverse fault segments of the Yolüstü
fault zone (Figure 2b). These fault segments cut
across the Senonian magmatic rocks, the Middle–
Upper Eocene sedimentary sequence of the Kırkgeçit
Formation, older reverse faults and displace them up
to 5 km, predominantly dextrally (Figure 17), and
tectonically juxtapose these older rocks with each
other and the Plio–Quaternary strike-slip basin infill
(Figure 2).
Yolüstü Fault Zone (YFZ) – This is an E–W-trending
zone of active deformation with oblique-slip reverse
faulting and a minor strike-slip component about 6
km wide and 20 km long. The Yolüstü fault zone is
confined to the area between the Sivrice fault zone in
the east and the Uluova fault zone in the west (Figure
2). It controls the E–W-trending middle section of
the Palu-Uluova strike-slip basin. The Yolüstü fault
zone consists of several, closely-spaced, varioussized (1.5–12 km), parallel-subparallel, northerly
565


PALU-ULUOVA BASIN IN THE EAST ANATOLIAN FAULT SYSTEM

KEBAN

DAM

LAKE

Figure 17. General view of the northwestern bounding faults (Elazığ fault zone) and their step-like topography controlling the
Uluova section of the Palu-Uluova strike-slip basin. Vertically-oriented white arrows indicate traces of the fault segments
(SW of Yolüstü village, view to SW). For location of the photograph, see Figure 2.

and southerly steeply dipping reverse fault segments
(Figure 2). They cut and displace, predominantly
vertically, both older rocks (Senonian Elazığ
magmatic complex, the Jurassic–Lower Cretaceous
Guleman ophiolitic rocks, the Middle–Upper Eocene
Kırkgeçit sedimentary sequence and the Upper
Miocene–Lower Pliocene Çaybağı Formation), and
tectonically juxtapose them with each other and the
Plio–Quaternary strike-slip basin infill. In the E–Wtrending middle section of the Palu-Uluova basin, the
basin infill has been uplifted, dissected and perched
on the boundary faults at different elevations owing
to the oblique-slip reverse faulting (Figure 2). The
existence and nature of reverse faulting, the activity
of some fault segments comprising the Yolüstü
fault zone, and the N–S orientation of the principal
stress (σ1) in and adjacent to the study area were
also proved once more by the occurrence of the 16
March 2010 Mw= 4.1 Yolüstü earthquake and its fault
plane solution diagram (Figure 1) (Tan et al. 2010).
Here the deviation of the general NE trend of the
faults into an E–W trend, the formation of the E–Wtrending reverse fault zone and the related ramp type
of basin along it, and the push-up nature of both
the Askerdağı and Mastardağı blocks are attributed
to anticlockwise rotation of the Mastardağı blocks
between the NE-trending Sivrice and Uluova fault
zones (Figure 2).
Discussion and Conclusion
Turkey is a seismically very active and geologically
complicated area in the Eastern Mediterranean
seismic belt. The geological complexity is dominated
by both the palaeotectonic fold-thrust to reverse
fault belt and the neotectonic overprinting strike566

slip faulting and related basin formation. The
geologically complicated deformation pattern of
east-southeastern Turkey has resulted from both the
entire demise of the Tethyan seaway, the Bitlis Ocean,
between the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean
Sea, and the continent-continent collision of the
northerly moving Arabian plate with the Eurasian
plate to the north in Late Serravalian time (Şengör
& Yılmaz 1981; Dewey et al. 1986). These authors
also accepted that the Late Serravalian continentcontinent collision marks both the onset age of the
neotectonic regime and the first emergence of related
major structures such as the Anatolian platelet and
its boundary faults, the NAFS and the EAFS in
eastern Turkey. However, the time range of these
authors (Late Miocene–Early Pliocene) does not fit
well with the onset age of the neotectonic regime
in eastern Anatolia, where the Late Miocene–Early
Pliocene interval marks the occurrence of a series of
geodynamic processes related to the intracontinental
convergence and a major slab-detachment event
(Faccenna et al. 2006) which pre-date the onset age of
the strike-slip neotectonic regime in eastern Anatolia;
i.e. the initiation age of the neotectonic regime is not
Late Serravalian in eastern Anatolia.
After the final collision and formation of the Bitlis
suture zone, the N–S intra-continental convergence
between the Arabian and the Eurasian plates lasted
for approximately 9 Ma (Late Miocene–Early
Pliocene), an interval termed the transitional period
by Koçyiğit et al. (2001). A series of deformations
occurred during this Late Miocene–Early Pliocene
transitional period. These include, in sequence,
crustal overthickening, regional tectonic uplift,
development of numerous asymmetric to overturned


S. ÇOLAK ET AL.

folds with E–W-trending axes, thrust to reverse
faults, E–W-trending ramp-type intermontane
basins with bounding reverse faults, resetting of
newly formed drainage systems, disappearance of
marine conditions, the development of short- to
long-term stratigraphical gaps and widespread calcalkaline magmatic activity (Şengör & Kidd 1979;
Innocenti et al. 1980; Dewey et al. 1986; Şaroğlu et al.
1987; Yılmaz et al. 1987; Ercan et al. 1990; Koçyiğit &
Beyhan 1998; Koçyiğit et al. 2001).
One of the last palaeotectonic units to experience
earlier pronounced contractional deformation is the
Upper Miocene–Lower Pliocene Çaybağı Formation.
It was deposited in an approximately E–W-trending
intermontane basin controlled by thrust to reverse

TQp

faulting. This is indicated by the widespread
occurrence of broken formations, slump structures,
reverse type of growth faults and the coarsening
upward nature of the Çaybağı Formation. Towards
the end of sedimentation, the Çaybağı Formation
was deformed into a series of asymmetrical to
overturned folds (Figures 11 & 12), and dissected by
reverse faults (Figure 18). Hence, the depositional
setting of the Çaybağı Formation cannot be as
previously interpreted, as a strike-slip basin located
along the EAFS by Koç Taşgın & Türkmen (2009),
because neither the strike-slip faulting-dominated
neotectonic regime nor the related major structures
(the Anatolian platelet and its margin-boundary
faults) had developed at that time. This is indicated

AU

Ke
RF

RF

Tk



SF

RF

Tk



Figure 18. General view of various mappable structures (RF– reverse fault; AU– angular unconformity; SF– strike-slip fault along
which older rocks; Ke– Senonian Elazığ magmatic complex; Tk– Middle–Upper Eocene Kırkgeçit formation) were
emplaced on the Upper Miocene–Lower Pliocene Çaybağı Formation (Tç) and deformed it. TQp– Plio–Quaternary Palu
Formation, which overlies with angular unconformity all the pre-Upper Pliocene rocks and compressional structures (2
km SE of Osmanağa village, view to NE). For location of the photograph, see Figure 2.

567


PALU-ULUOVA BASIN IN THE EAST ANATOLIAN FAULT SYSTEM

by: (1) the Çaybağı Formation contains very frequent
repetition of coarsening- and fining-upward
sequences, and ends with coarser-grained regressive
clastics, (2) it is full of soft-sediment deformational
features related mostly to folding or reverse faulting,
such as slump folds, slump thrust, convolute
lamination, load structures and sand injections, (3)
thrusts to reversed growth faults, (4) the Çaybağı
Formation is intensely and synchronously deformed
(steeply tilted, folded and reverse-faulted) on a
regional (mappable) scale (Figure 17), (5) the
Çaybağı Formation and its contractional deformation
pattern are truncated, sealed and overlain with
angular unconformity by the weakly lithified to
unconsolidated and nearly horizontal undeformed
Plio–Quaternary Palu Formation (Figures 7f & 8).
The development of fold-thrust to reverse faults
zones and related contractional deformation of the
Çaybağı Formation continued under the control of
the N–S principal compressive stress system (Figure
12) until the end of Middle Pliocene. Subsequently,
it was replaced by the first emergence of a strikeslip neotectonic regime. This is indicated by the
widespread occurrence of regional inversions in
the type of tectonic regime (e.g., the orientation of
σ2 changed from horizontal to vertical), the type
of geological structures, the style of deformation
(e.g., from folding and thrust-reverse faulting to
predominantly strike-slip faulting), the type of
basin (e.g., from thrust to reverse fault-bounded
intermontane basin to strike-slip basin), type of
sedimentation (e.g., from a fining-upward sequence
to a coarsening-upward sequence), and in particular,
in the nature of seismic activity triggered by the
formation of two intracontinental transform fault
boundaries (e.g., the North Anatolian dextral strikeslip fault system and the East Anatolian sinistral
strike-slip fault system). Lastly, the west-southwestward escape of the Anatolian platelet along these
two megashear zones was established (Hempton
1987; Koçyiğit & Beyhan 1998; Yılmaz et al. 1998;
Koçyiğit et al. 2001). For this reason, the onset age of
the strike-slip faulting-dominated neotectonic regime
in east-southeastern Turkey and its neighbourhood
is Late Pliocene (Koçyiğit et al. 2001).
Since the Late Pliocene, the early rugged
topography, which reflects the compressional
568

deformation pattern of the Çaybağı Formation and
older rocks, was cut and dissected into numerous
blocks by strike-slip faulting and newly formed
neotectonic structures such as the Sivrice, Adıyaman,
Uluova, Elazığ, Pertek and Yolüstü fault zones.
These blocks were shaped by the strike-slip faulting
complexities such as the bifurcation, double bends
and step-overs developed as a result of the rheology
of the earth’s crust and variation in the general trends
of the strike-slip faults mentioned above. Lastly these
neotectonic structures led to the formation of the
Palu-Uluova strike-slip basin. The first stratigraphic
units accumulated in it were the Baltaşı travertines
and the Palu Formation, which were deposited under
a strike-slip neotectonic regime.
The early fluvial clastics of the Palu Formation are
full of syn-sedimentary growth faults, mostly strikeslip and normal faults. Another diagnostic lithofacies
of the neotectonic infill is the travertine, which was
precipitated from the CaCO3-rich water circulating
along the strike-slip faults and emerging as springs.
Early deposited boulder-block conglomerates occur
in two settings: pressure ridges and fault terraces.
Deformed into a series of strike-slip fault-bounded
lensoidal pressure ridges with long axes parallel or
slightly oblique to the general trend of the master fault,
both the travertine and the early deposited boulderblock conglomerates have been uplifted, dissected
and elevated again on the fault-suspended terraces
as a manifestation of the activity on the bounding
strike-slip faults of the Palu-Uluova basin. Faultparallel aligned alluvial fans have also been deformed.
Consequently, the combination of growth faultassociated syn-depositional features, such as fault
terraces, pressure ridges and deformed alluvial fans
all reflect strike-slip faulting-induced deformation in
the Palu-Uluova basin during the Plio–Quaternary
neotectonic regime. At present, this is also indicated
by the fault plane solution diagrams (Figure 1) of
earthquakes sourced from the faults, which show the
Plio–Quaternary neotectonic configuration of the
Palu-Uluova complex strike-slip basin (Figures 1b &
2). Evolution of the Palu-Uluova strike-slip basin and
deposition of its neotectonic infill have continued
under the control of the bounding strike-slip fault
zones mentioned above since the Late Pliocene.


S. ÇOLAK ET AL.

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