Caroline Kaub PhD defense

On Friday March 15th 2019, Caroline Kaub will defend her thesis titled “Intraplate active deformation : multi-disciplinary onshore-offshore analysis of seismic risk in Vendee (France), from the M6 1799 Vendée earthquake”.

The Vendée department is classified as a level 3 seismic risk zone because of a moderate background seismic activity and a strong historical seismicity dominated by the 1799 January 25th (M6) major event in the Marais Breton. This earthquake caused local massive damages in Bouin and around Nantes, and its perception area stretched widely in the West of France. Coastal Vendée is located on the French Atlantic coast, south of the South Armorican Shear Zone. This area is made of numerous NW-SE trending hercynian inherited structures, reactivated during Mesozoic and Cenozoic times and delimiting holocene coastal marschlands. The main goal of this thesis is to characterize the geometry of potential plio-quaternary active faults in the area by focusing on the Machecoul fault, bounding the Marais Breton and the Baie de Bourgneuf sedimentary basins and potential candidate for the 1799 earthquake.

We used a multidisciplinary onshore-offshore approach, including seismology (temporary network), marine geophysics (Chirp and Sparker seismic reflexion, high resolution bathymetry), morphotectonic, gravity, onshore drilling database and historical seismicity. Our results allowed us to analyze and characterize (1) the Machecoul normal faults system structure and geometry in depth, (2) the plio-quaternary depocenters location in Marais Breton and Baie de Bourgneuf in relation with the Machecoul fault system, reaching locally around twenty meters thick, (3) the hydrographic network perturbation and recent incision of the Machecoul fault footwall, probably pliocene aged relief, (4) the microseismic activity of the Machecoul fault. Our data suggest that the plio-quaternary sedimentation of the marine and terrestrial basins located in the south of the fault could be controlled by this inherited fault, probably dated from Eocene age.

This work confirms the importance of multi-disciplinary approach in the study of faults in low deformation context and provides a body of evidence allowing to connect the Machecoul fault to the rupture of the 1799 Vendée earthquake (M6), historic and reference event in the western part of France given its scale and so its consequences in the more and more densely populated coastal area.