Normal faulting sequence in the Pumqu-Xainza Rift constrained by InSAR and teleseismic body-wave seismology

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Abstract

Normal faulting earthquakes play an important role in the deformation of continents, and pose significant seismic hazard, yet important questions remain about their mechanics. We use InSAR and body-wave seismology to compute dislocation models and centroid moment solutions for four normal-faulting earthquakes (Mw 5.7-6.2) that occurred in the Pumqu-Xainza Rift (PXR), southern Tibet, a region where low-angle normal faulting has previously been inferred. We also use the fault locations and slip to investigate the correlation between earthquakes and surface topography, and to calculate stress interactions between the earthquakes. The InSAR and body-wave models give consistent focal mechanisms except for the magnitude of the 1996 event, which may be overestimated due to postseismic deformation in the long-interval interferograms. We calculate the static stress changes due to coseismic slip and find that the 1993 event was too distant to cause triggering of the later events, but that the 1998 event pair occurred in regions of increased Coulomb stress resulting from the 1996 event. All the fault planes found here dip at 40-60, reinforcing the absence in observations for low-angle normal faulting earthquakes (dip<30) whose focal planes can be determined unambiguously. The fault planes of the 1993 and 1996 events are not associated with any obvious surface geomorphology, suggesting that sometimes it is unreliable to resolve the focal plane ambiguity by geomorphology, even for Mw 6.2 events. Furthermore, these events occurred outside the center of the rift, indicating that the active faulting is more distributed and over a length-scale at least 25-50 km east-west in extent, rather than confined to the 20 km width seen in the current mapped faulting and topography. These results suggest that seismic hazard in other extensional zones worldwide might also be more broadly distributed than suggested by geomorphology. © 2014. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

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Wang, H., Elliott, J. R., Craig, T. J., Wright, T. J., Liu-Zeng, J., & Hooper, A. (2014). Normal faulting sequence in the Pumqu-Xainza Rift constrained by InSAR and teleseismic body-wave seismology. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 15(7), 2947–2963. https://doi.org/10.1002/2014GC005369

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