Intraplate crustal deformation in Sabah: Preliminary results of Global Positioning System/Global Navigation Satellite System measurements in the Ranau area

Author : Bailon Golutin, Felix Tongkul, Ismail Abd Rahim
Publication : Bulletin of the Geological Society of Malaysia
Page : 111 - 122
Volume Number : 74
Year : 2022

Bulletin of the Geological Society of Malaysia, Volume 74, November 2022, pp. 111 – 122


Intraplate crustal deformation in Sabah: Preliminary results of Global Positioning System/Global Navigation Satellite System measurements in the Ranau area


Bailon Golutin1,*, Felix Tongkul2, Ismail Abd Rahim2

1 Jabatan Mineral dan Geosains Malaysia Sabah, Beg Berkunci 2042, 88999 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

2 Fakulti Sains Dan Sumber Alam, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, 88400 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

* Corresponding author email address:


Abstract: The Ranau area is one of the most earthquake-prone areas in Sabah due to the ongoing intraplate deformation in the region. Numerous active faults have been mapped here, but to date these faults are yet to be fully documented in terms of their exact locations and movements. Since 2018, the Department of Mineral and Geoscience (JMG) has installed and monitored 31 GPS/GNSS (Global Positioning System/Global Navigation Satellite System) monuments in the Ranau area to determine crustal movements in this region. Preliminary results show minor horizontal and vertical movements (ranging from 0.1 cm to 4.3 cm) indicating that the Ranau area is undergoing intraplate crustal deformation due to both NW-SE compressional and extensional tectonics. A clear demarcation of upward and downward vertical movements recorded in areas to the NW and SE of Kundasang could be related to uplift and subsidence associated with a large open anticline and syncline. A consistent northwestward horizontal movement from Kundasang to Kota Belud indicates the presence of a single crustal block moving away from the NE-SW trending Lobou-Lobou Fault Zone. Southwestward horizontal movement in the Nalapak-Nabutan area indicates the presence of a NW-SE trending fault possibly associated with the Matupang Fault Zone. These preliminary results show that the GPS/GNSS campaign has proven to be quite successful in locating the major earthquake-generating faults in the Ranau area. However, the locations and nature of the movements of other active faults are still uncertain. It is hoped that the activity of these faults will become clearer after a few more years of monitoring.


Keywords: GPS/GNSS velocities, intraplate crustal deformation, active faults, Ranau, Sabah



Altamimi, Z., Collilieux, X., & Métivier, L., 2011. ITRF2008: An
improved solution of the international terrestrial reference frame. J. Geod.,
85, 457–473.

Barckhausen, U., & Roeser, H.A., 2004. Seaflfloor spreading
anomalies in the South China Sea revisited. In: Clift, P., Wang, P., Kuhnt, W.,
& Hayes, D.E. (Eds.), Continent ocean interactions within the East Asian
marginal seas. American Geophysical Union Geophysical Monograph, 49, 121–125.

Bol, A.J., & van Hoorn, B., 1980. Structural style in Western
Sabah offshore. Bulletin of the Geological Society of Malaysia, 12, 1–16.

Briais, A., Patriat, P., & Tapponnier, P., 1993. Updated
interpretation of magnetic anomalies and sea floor spreading stages in the
South China Sea: Implications for the Tertiary tectonics of Southeast Asia.
Journal of Geophysical Research, 98, 6299–6328.

Cullen, A., 2010. Transverse segmentation of the Baram-Balabac
Basin, NW Borneo: Refining the model of Borneo’s tectonic evolution. Pet.
Geosci., 16, 3-19.

Franke, D., Barckhausen, U., Heyde, I., Tingay, M., & Ramli, N.,
2008. Seismic images of a collision zone offshore NW Sabah/Borneo. Mar. Pet.
Geol., 25, 606–624.

Hall, R., 1996. Reconstructing Cenozoic SE Asia. In: Hall, R. &
Blundell, D. J. (Eds.), Tectonic evolution of SE Asia. Geological Society of
London Special Publication, 106, 153-184.

Hall, R., & Wilson, M.E.J., 2000. Neogene sutures in Eastern
Indonesia. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, 18, 787–814.

Hall, R., Cottam, M., Suggate, S., Tongkul, F., Sperber, C., &
Batt, G., 2009. The geology of Mount Kinabalu. Sabah Parks Publication, Kota

Hall, R., 2013. Contraction and extension in Borneo. Journal of Asian
Earth Sciences, 76, 399-411.

Hamilton, W., 1979. Tectonic Map of the Indonesian Region. U.S.
Geological Survey, Miscellaneous Investigations Series, Map I-875-D.

Hazerbroek, H.P., & Tan, K., 1993. Tertiary tectonic evolution
of the NW Sabah Continental Margin. In: G.H. Teh (Ed.), Proceedings symposium
on the Tectonic framework and energy resources of the western margin of the
Pacific Basin, 29th November-2nd December, 1992. Bulletin of the Geological
Society of Malaysia, 33, 195-210.

Hesse, S., Back, S., & Franke, D., 2009. The deep-water
fold-and-thrust belt offshore NW Borneo: Gravity-driven versus basement-driven
shortening. Geol. Soc. Am. Bull., 121, 939–953.

Hinz, K., Block, M., Kudrass, H.R., & Meyer, H., 1991. Structural
elements of the Sulu Sea, Philippines. Geologisches Jahrbuch, Reihe, A 127,

Holloway, N.H., 1982. North Palawan Block – Its relation to Asian
mainland and role in evolution of South China Sea. American Association of
Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, 66, 1355–1383.

Hutchison, C.S., Bergman, S.C., Swauger, D.A., & Graves, J.E.,
2000. A Miocene collisional belt in North Borneo: Uplift mechanism and
isostatic adjustment quantified by thermochronology. Journal of the Geological
Society of London, 157, 783-793.

Hutchison, C.S., 2004. Marginal basin evolution: The Southern South
China Sea. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 21, 1129–1148.

Hutchison, C.S., 2005. Geology of North-West Borneo. Elsevier,
Amsterdam. 444 p.

Ingram, G., Chisholm, T., Grant, C., Hedlund, C., Stuart-Smith, P.,
& Teasdale, J., 2004. Deepwater North West Borneo: Hydrocarbon accumulation
in an active fold and thrust belt. Mar. Pet. Geol., 21, 879–887. 1016/j.marpetgeo.2003.12.007.

Ismail, A.R., Tongkul, F., Mustaffa, K.S., Tajul, A.J., Alexander,
Y.S.W., Mohd Rosaidi, C.A., Noraini, S., Rozaini, I., Mohd Nazan, A., Ferdaus,
A., Mohamad, M., Bailon, G., Henry, L.A., Ledyhernando, T., Zaidi, D., Roziah,
C.M., Zahid, A., Rabieahtul, A.B., Khamarrul, A.R., & B., Harry, 2015.
Remote sensing and field survey analysis of active faults in tectonically
active areas in Malaysia. Sciencefund Project 04-01-10-SF0201 Technical Report
for MOSTI. 124 p.

King, R.C., Backé, G., Morley, C.K., Hillis, R.R., & Tingay,
M.R.P., 2010. Balancing deformation in NW Borneo: Quantifying plate-scale vs.
gravitational tectonics in a delta and deepwater fold-thrust belt system. Mar.
Pet. Geol., 27, 238–246.

Levell, B.K., 1987. The nature and signifificance of regional
unconformities in the hydrocarbon-bearing Neogene sequences offshore West
Sabah. Bulletin of the Geological Society of Malaysia, 21, 55–90.

Mohamed, A., 2012. Monitoring active fault in Ranau, Sabah using
GPS. 19th United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference for Asia and the
Pacific, Bangkok Thailand.

Morley, C.K., King, R., Hillis, R., Tingay, M., & Backe, G.,
2011. Deepwater fold and thrust belt classification, tectonics, structure and
hydrocarbon prospectivity: A review. Earth Sci. Rev., 104, 41–91. earscirev.2010.09.010.

Mustafar, M.A., Simons, W.J.F., Omar, K.D., & Ambrosius, B.A.C.,
2014. Monitoring of local deformation in North Borneo. Proceeding of FIG
Congress 2014, Engaging the Challenges, Enhancing the Relevance, Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia, 16-21 June 2014.

Mustafar, M.A., Simons, W.J.F., Tongkul, F., Satirapod, C., Omar, K.M.,
& Visser, P.N.A.M., 2017. Quantifying deformation in North Borneo with GPS.
J. Geod., 91, 1241–1259.

Rangin, C., Bellon, H., Benard, F., Letouzey J., Moller, C., &
Tahir, S., 1990. Neogene arc-continent collision in Sabah, N. Borneo (Malaysia).
Tectonophysics, 183(1-4), 305-319.

Rebischung, P., Griffiths, J., Ray, J., Schmid, R., Collilieux, X.,
& Garayt, B., 2012. IGS08: the IGS realization of ITRF2008. GPS Solutions,
16, 483-494. 10.1007/s10291-011-0248-2.

Sandal, S.T., 1996. The geology and hydrocarbon resources of Negara
Brunei Darussalam. Brunei Shell Petroleum, Seria. 243 p.

Sapin, F., Hermawan, I., Pubellier, M., Vigny, C. & Ringenbach, J.C.,
2013. The recent convergence on the NW Borneo wedge-A crustal-scale gravity
gliding evidenced from GPS. Geophys. J. Int., 193, 549–556.

Simons, W.J.F., Socquet, A., Vigny, C., Ambrosius, B.A.C., Haji Abu,
S., Promthong, C., Subarya, C., Sarsito, D.A., Matheussen, S., Morgan, P.,
& Spakman, W., 2007. A decade of GPS in Southeast Asia: Resolving Sundaland
motion and boundaries. J. Geophys. Res., 112, B06420.

Tan, D.N.K., & Lamy, J.M., 1990. Tectonic evolution of the NW
Sabah continental margin since the Late Eocene. Bulletin of the Geological
Society of Malaysia, 27, 241-260.

Taylor, B., & Hayes, D.E., 1983. Origin and history of the South
China Sea Basin. In: Hayes, D.E. (Ed.), The tectonic and geologic evolution of
Southeast Asian seas and islands: Part 2. American Geophysical Union,
Geophysical Monographs Series, 27, 23-56.

Tjia, H.D., 2007. Kundasang (Sabah) at the intersection of regional fault
zones of Quaternary age. Bulletin of the Geological Society of Malaysia, 53,

Tokuyama, A., & Yoshida, S.,1974. Kinabalu Fault, a large strike
slip fault in Sabah, East Malaysia. In: Kobayashi, T., & Toriyama, R.
(Eds.), Geology and palaeontology of Southeast Asia. Univ. Tokyo Press, 14,

Tongkul, F., 1990. Structural styles and tectonics of Western and Northern
Sabah. Bulletin of the Geological Society of Malaysia, 27, 227–240.

Tongkul, F., 1991. Tectonic evolution of Sabah, Malaysia. Journal of
Southeast Asian Earth Sciences, 6, 395–406.

Tongkul, F., 2017. Active tectonics in Sabah – Seismicity and active
faults. Bulletin of the Geological Society of Malaysia, 64, 27–36.

Wood, B.G.M., 1985. The mechanics of progressive deformation in
crustal plates: Working model for S.E. Asia. Bulletin of the Geological Society
of Malaysia, 18, 55–10.

Yan, A.S.W., Liau, A., Hamzah, M., Ramli, M.Y., Taib, M.B.M., Ali,
A., Ariffin, H., Ismail, B., & Tjia, H.D., 2008. Assessment of the seismic
threats to Malaysia from major earthquakes in the Southeast Asian region.
Department of Mineral and Geoscience Malaysia.


Manuscript received 24 August 2021

Received in revised form 2 September 2022

Accepted 6 September 2022

Available online 30 November 2022


0126-6187; 2637-109X / Published by the Geological Society of Malaysia.


© 2022 by the Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) License 4.0.