Rupture behavior and deformation localization of the Kunlunshan earthquake (M(w)7.8) and their tectonic implications | INSTITUT DE PHYSIQUE DU GLOBE DE PARIS


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  Rupture behavior and deformation localization of the Kunlunshan earthquake (M(w)7.8) and their tectonic implications

Type de publication:

Journal Article


Science in China Series D-Earth Sciences, Volume 51, Ticket 10, p.1361-1374 (2008)



Numéro d'accès:



Tectonique et Mécanique de la Lithosphère, UMR 7154


Earthquake surface rupture is the result of transformation from crustal elastic strain accumulation to permanent tectonic deformation. The surface rupture zone produced by the 2001 Kunlunshan earthquake (M(w)7.8) on the Kusaihu segment of the Kunlun fault extends over 426 km. It consists of three relatively independent surface rupture sections: the western strike-slip section, the middle transtensional section and the eastern strike-slip section. Hence this implies that the Kunlunshan earthquake is composed of three earthquake rupturing events, i.e. the M-w=6.8, M-w=6.2 and M-w <= 7.8 events, respectively. The M-w <= 7.8 earthquake, along the eastern section, is the main shock of the Kunlunshan earthquake, further decomposed into four rupturing subevents. Field measurements indicate that the width of a single surface break on different sections ranges from several meters to 15 m, with a maximum value of less than 30 m. The width of the surface rupture zone that consists of en echelon breaks depends on its geometric structures, especially the stepover width of the secondary surface rupture zones in en echelon, displaying a basic feature of deformation localization. Consistency between the Quaternary geologic slip rate, the GPS-monitored strain rate and the localization of the surface ruptures of the 2001 Kunlunshan earthquake may indicate that the tectonic deformation between the Bayan Har block and Qilian-Qaidam block in the northern Tibetan Plateau is characterized by strike-slip faulting along the limited width of the Kunlun fault, while the blocks themselves on both sides of the Kunlun fault are characterized by block motion. The localization of earthquake surface rupture zone is of great significance to determine the width of the fault-surface-rupture hazard zone, along which direct destruction will be caused by co-seismic surface rupturing along a strike-slip fault, that should be considered before the major engineering project, residental buildings and life line construction.