3 years ago

Stressing rates and seismicity on the major faults in eastern Tibetan Plateau

Gang Luo, Mian Liu


Intensive studies following the 2008 Wenchuan and 2013 Lushan earthquakes have shown that these two events have changed stresses on major faults in eastern Tibetan Plateau. However, these stress changes are small perturbations to total stresses on these faults. To evaluate full stress evolution on faults and the associated earthquake hazard, we need to consider the effects of all regional large earthquakes and tectonic stressing on faults. Here we use a three‐dimensional viscoelastoplastic finite element model to investigate stress evolution and long‐term temporal patterns of seismicity on major faults in eastern Tibet. We first simulate stress changes due to coseismic slips and postseismic viscoelastic stress relaxation by regional 28 big earthquakes since 1327, and find that 9 events, including the Wenchuan earthquake, occurred where Coulomb stress was decreased by the preceding events. We then evaluate interseismic stressing rates using the geodynamic model and GPS data, and find the highest rate on Xianshuihe fault (~1000‐4950 Pa/yr) and the lowest rate on Longmenshan fault (~150‐1133 Pa/yr). Including interseismic stressing in stress evolution shows that the Wenchuan earthquake ruptured where Coulomb stress had increased since 1327, and stresses on southern Xianshuihe and central Anninghe faults would have reached pre‐rupture stress levels of their preceding ruptures. Finally, we analyze synthetic seismicity on faults, and find that earthquakes on each fault tend to occur in clusters, separated by quiescent periods whose lengths are inversely related with fault slip rates. The time spans of earthquake clusters are affected by fault slip rates, fault configuration, and rheology.

Publisher URL: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2018JB015532

DOI: 10.1029/2018JB015532

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