Depth segmentation of the seismogenic continental crust: The 2008 and 2009 Qaidam earthquakes

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The seismic hazard in the immediate vicinity of an earthquake is usually assumed to be reduced after rupture of a continental fault, with along-strike portions being brought closer to failure and aftershocks being significantly smaller. This period of reduced hazard will persist as strain re-accumulates over decades or centuries. However, this is only realised if the entire seismogenic layer ruptured in the event. Here we use satellite radar measurements to show the ruptures of two M w 6.3 earthquakes, occurring in almost the same epicentral location ten months apart in the Qaidam region, China, were nearly coplanar. The 2008 earthquake ruptured the lower half of the seismogenic layer, the 2009 event the upper half. Fault segmentation with depth allows a significant seismic hazard to remain even after a moderate and potentially devastating earthquake. This depth segmentation possibly exists in the case of the 2003 Bam earthquake where satellite radar and aftershock measurements showed that it ruptured only the upper half of the 15-20 km deep seismogenic region [Jackson et al., 2006], and that the lower, unruptured part may remain as a continuing seismic hazard. Copyright © 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.




Elliott, J. R., Parsons, B., Jackson, J. A., Shan, X., Sloan, R. A., & Walker, R. T. (2011). Depth segmentation of the seismogenic continental crust: The 2008 and 2009 Qaidam earthquakes. Geophysical Research Letters, 38(6).

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