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Journal of Seismology

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 615–628 | Cite as

Evidence for a Tang-Song Dynasty great earthquake along the Longmen Shan Thrust Belt prior to the 2008 M w 7.9 Wenchuan earthquake, China

  • Aiming LinEmail author
  • Zhikun Ren
  • Dong Jia
  • Yosuke Miyairi
Original Article

Abstract

The magnitude (M w) 7.9 Wenchuan earthquake occurred on 12 May 2008 in the Longmen Shan region of China, the transition zone between the Tibetan Plateau and the Sichuan Basin, resulting in widespread damage throughout central and western China. The steep, high-relief eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau has undergone rapid Cenozoic uplift and denudation accompanied by folding and thrusting, yet no large thrust earthquakes are known prior to the 2008 M w 7.9 Wenchuan earthquake. Field and excavation investigations reveal that a great historical earthquake occurred in the Sichuan region that ruptured a >200-km-long thrust fault within the Longmen Shan Thrust Belt, China, which also triggered the 2008 M w 7.9 Wenchuan earthquake. The average co-seismic slip amount produced by this historical earthquake is estimated to be 2–3 m, comparable with that caused by the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. Paleoseismic and archaeological evidence and radiocarbon dating results show that the penultimate great earthquake occurred in the Sichuan region during the late Tang-Song Dynasty, between AD 800 and 1000, suggesting a recurrence interval of ~1,000–1,200 years for Wenchuan-magnitude (M = ~8) earthquakes in the late Holocene within the Longmen Shan Thrust Belt. This finding is in contrast with previous estimates of 2,000–10,000 years for the recurrence interval of large earthquakes within the Longmen Shan Thrust Belt, as obtained from long-term slip rates based on the Global Positioning System and geological data, thereby necessitating substantial modifications to existing seismic-hazard models for the densely populated region at the eastern marginal zone of the Tibetan Plateau.

Keywords

2008 Mw 7.9 Wenchuan earthquake Historical earthquake Longmen Shan Thrust Belt Tibetan Plateau Tang-Song Dynasty 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aiming Lin
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Zhikun Ren
    • 1
  • Dong Jia
    • 3
  • Yosuke Miyairi
    • 4
  1. 1.Graduate School of Science and TechnologyShizuoka UniversityShizuokaJapan
  2. 2.Institute of Geosciences, Faculty of ScienceShizuoka UniversityShizuokaJapan
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesNanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  4. 4.Department of Nuclear Engineering and Management, Graduate School of EngineeringUniversity of TokyoTokyoJapan

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