23 Feb 2024
 | 23 Feb 2024

GIS-based characterization of fault zones in South-Korea using information on seismicity, in-situ stress and slip tendency – Evaluation of respect distances for nuclear waste disposal site screening

Stefan Bredemeyer, Jeoung Seok Yoon, Linmao Xie, and Jeong-Hwan Lee

Abstract. Identification of seismically active fault zones and the definition of sufficiently large respect distances from these faults which enable avoiding the damaged rock zone surrounding the ruptured ground commonly are amongst the first steps to take in the geoscientific evaluation of sites suitable for nuclear waste disposal. In this work we present a GIS-based approach, using the earthquake-epicentre locations from the instrumental earthquake record of South-Korea to identify potentially active fault zones in the country, and compare different strategies for fault zone buffer creation as originally developed for site search in the high seismicity country Japan, and the low-to-moderate seismicity countries Germany and Sweden. In order to characterize the hazard potential of the Korean fault zones, we moreover conducted slip tendency analysis, here for the first time covering the fault zones of the entire Korean Peninsula. For our analyses we used the geo-spatial information from a new version of the Geological map of South-Korea, containing the outlines of 11 rock units, which we simplified to distinguish between 4 different rock types (granites, metamorphic rocks, sedimentary rocks and igneous rocks) and the surface traces of 1,528 fault zones and 6,654 lineaments identified through years of field work and data processing, a rich geo-dataset which we will publish along with this manuscript. Our approach for identification of active fault zones was developed without prior knowledge of already known seismically active fault zones, and as a proof of concept the results later were compared to a map containing already identified active fault zones. The comparison revealed that our approach identified 16 of the 21 known seismically active faults and added 472 previously unknown potentially active faults. The 5 seismically active fault zones which were not identified by our approach are located in the NE- and SW-sectors of the Korean Peninsula, which haven’t seen much recent seismic activity, and thus are not sufficiently well covered by the seismic record. The strike directions of fault zones identified as active are in good agreement with the orientation of the current stress field of the peninsula and slip tendency analysis provided first insights into subsurface geometry such as the dip angles of both active and inactive fault zones. The results of our work are of major importance for the early-stage seismic hazard assessment that has to be conducted in support of the nuclear waste disposal siting in South-Korea. Moreover, the GIS-based methods for identification of active fault zones and buffering of respect areas around fault zone traces presented here, are applicable also elsewhere.

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Stefan Bredemeyer, Jeoung Seok Yoon, Linmao Xie, and Jeong-Hwan Lee

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2674', Giacomo Medici, 22 Mar 2024
    • AC1: 'Reply on CC1', Stefan Bredemeyer, 03 May 2024
  • CC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2674', Ki-Bok Min, 30 Apr 2024
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2674', Tiegan Hobbs, 14 May 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2674', Ramon Arrowsmith, 07 Jun 2024
Stefan Bredemeyer, Jeoung Seok Yoon, Linmao Xie, and Jeong-Hwan Lee
Stefan Bredemeyer, Jeoung Seok Yoon, Linmao Xie, and Jeong-Hwan Lee


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Short summary
Siting of deep geological repositories for spent nuclear fuel requires large volumes of intact rock, which must not be damaged due to seismic activity in order to ensure safe containment of the toxic waste. Here we present an approach to identify large-scale fractures in Earth's surface, which may rupture in the event of future earthquakes and defined safety zones around the fractures in which a deep geological repository for storage of spent nuclear fuel should not be built.