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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research project: Structure, fluid flow and earthquake potential of the Makran Subduction Zone, Pakistan

Currently Active:

This project is focused on investigating the structure and earthquake potential of the Makran Subduction Zone. This margin has been previously understudied by seismic reflection data and currently experiences low earthquake activity. Its high sediment input (up to 7.5 km) and shallow geometry had lead to previous studies classifying it as a primarily aseismic margin. However, the occurrence of a Mw8.1 earthquake in 1945 raises questions about its true earthquake potential, and the Makran may pose a significant earthquake and tsunami hazard.

Figure 1 (Source: G Smith)
Figure 1 (Source: G Smith)

Key Objectives

  • To create a complete structure map of the accretionary prism offshore Pakistan to improve our understanding of the dynamics of the largest accretionary prism on the planet.
  • To use thermal modelling to estimate the earthquake potential of this margin, and how much of a hazard it poses to the surrounding region.
  • To investigate the occurrence and migration of fluids (methane gas and hydrate) within the accretionary prism sediments.
  • To place the  Makran in context with other, more extensively studied subduction zones such as Nankai and Cascadia.


  • Over 6000 km of high resolution, industry 2D seismic reflection data collected by Western Geco.
  • Multibeam bathymetry and TOBI Sidescan data
Figure2 (Source:Bourget et al 2010)
Figure2 (Source:Bourget et al 2010)

Key Contacts

Gemma Smith
Prof. Lisa McNeill
Tim Henstock
Prof. Jonathan Bull

PhDs and Other Opportunities


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