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

Earth and Planetary Science Letters
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Abstract

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. ?? 2009 Elsevier B.V.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title 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
Series title Earth and Planetary Science Letters
DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2009.07.017
Volume 286
Issue 3-4
Year Published 2009
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Earth and Planetary Science Letters
First page 355
Last page 370