Co-seismic ruptures of the 12 May 2008, Ms 8.0 Wenchuan earthquake, Sichuan : East–west crustal shortening on oblique, parallel thrusts along the eastern edge of Tibet
Hudnut, K. W.
van der Woerd, J.
Date of Issue2009
School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences
Earth Observatory of Singapore
The Ms 8.0, Wenchuan earthquake, which devastated the mountainous western rim of the Sichuan basin in central China, produced a surface rupture over 200 km-long with oblique thrust/dextral slip and maximum scarp heights of ~ 10 m. It thus ranks as one of the world's largest continental mega-thrust events in the last 150 yrs. Field investigation shows clear surface breaks along two of the main branches of the NE-trending Longmen Shan thrust fault system. The principal rupture, on the NW-dipping Beichuan fault, displays nearly equal amounts of thrust and right-lateral slip. Basin-ward of this rupture, another continuous surface break is observed for over 70 km on the parallel, more shallowly NW-dipping Pengguan fault. Slip on this latter fault was pure thrusting, with a maximum scarp height of ~ 3.5 m. This is one of the very few reported instances of crustal-scale co-seismic slip partitioning on parallel thrusts. This out-of-sequence event, with distributed surface breaks on crustal mega-thrusts, highlights regional, ~ EW-directed, present day crustal shortening oblique to the Longmen Shan margin of Tibet. The long rupture and large offsets with strong horizontal shortening that characterize the Wenchuan earthquake herald a re-evaluation of tectonic models anticipating little or no active shortening of the upper crust along this edge of the plateau, and require a re-assessment of seismic hazard along potentially under-rated active faults across the densely populated western Sichuan basin and mountains.
DRNTU::Science::Geology::Volcanoes and earthquakes
Earth and planetary science letters
© 2009 Elsevier B.V. This is the author created version of a work that has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication by Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Elsevier B.V. It incorporates referee’s comments but changes resulting from the publishing process, such as copyediting, structural formatting, may not be reflected in this document. The published version is available at: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2009.07.017].