Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 284–292 | Cite as

Rupture process of the Wenchuan M8.0 earthquake of Sichuan China: the segmentation feature

  • CuiPing Zhao
  • ZhangLi Chen
  • LianQing Zhou
  • ZhiXiong Li
  • Yin Kang
Articles Geophysics


Moment tensor solution, rupture process and rupture characteristics of the great Wenchuan 8.0 earthquake are studied by using 39 long-period P and SH waveforms with evenly azimuth coverage of stations. Our results reveal that the Wenchuan M8.0 event consisted of 5 sub-events of M w⩾7.3 occurring succesively in time and space. Rupture started with a M w7.3 introductory strike-slip faulting in the first 12 s, then within 12–40 s, two sub-events with M w 7.6, 7.4 occurred within 80 km northeast from the initial point with the dominant rupture type of thrust moving. From 40 to 62 s, a M w 7.5 and M w 7.4 right-lateral strike-slip type of sub-events occurred on the two sides of Beichuan, 120 km away northeast from the initial point. The whole rupture process lasted 105 s and unilaterally propagated from the initial point on the WS section of the Yingxiu-Beichuan fault to the NE direction, resulting in a 230-km-long surface rupture zone and the average surface dislocation is up to 4 m. Two asperities are identified and the whole rupture process is formed by WS and NE parts. In the WS part named Dujiangyang-Wenchuan, where the initial point is located, the rupture process showed reverse faulting with the maximum slip of 8.2 m. Around Mianzhu, rupture changed to right-lateral strike slip faulting and formed a Beichuan-Qinchuan large slip area. The rupture area on this part is about 10 km in depth, shallower than on the WS part. The maximum slip is 6.53 m. Consequently, there formed 2 segments with the surface dislocation larger than 6 m. One is the Dujiangyan-Wenchuan segment with the maximum surface displacement of 6.44 m, the other is the Beichuan-Qingchuan segment with the maximum surface displacement of 6.53 m. This segmentation may have its geological and tectonic background.


Wenchuan earthquake moment tensor solution rupture process fault segmentation characteristics 


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Copyright information

© Science in China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • CuiPing Zhao
    • 1
  • ZhangLi Chen
    • 2
  • LianQing Zhou
    • 1
  • ZhiXiong Li
    • 1
  • Yin Kang
    • 3
  1. 1.Insitute of Earthquake ScienceChina Earthquake AdministrationBeijingChina
  2. 2.China Earthquake AdministrationBeijingChina
  3. 3.Seismological Bureau of Guangdong ProvinceGuangzhouChina

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