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A seismic gap on the Anninghe fault in western Sichuan, China

Abstract

Through integrated analyses of time-varying patterns of regional seismicity, occurrence background of strong and large historical earthquakes along active faults, and temporal-spatial distribution of accurately relocated hypocenters of modern small earthquakes, this paper analyzes and discusses the implication of a 30-year-lasting seismic quiescence in the region along and surrounding the Anninghe and Zemuhe faults in western Sichuan, China. It suggests that the seismic quiescence for M L⩾4.0 events has been lasting in the studied region since January, 1977, along with the formation and evaluation of a seismic gap of the second kind, the Anninghe seismic gap. The Anninghe seismic gap has the background of a seismic gap of the first kind along the Anninghe fault, and has resulted from evident fault-locking and strain-accumulating along the fault during the last 30 years. Now, two fault sections either without or with less small earthquakes exist along the Anninghe fault within the Anninghe seismic gap. They indicate two linked and locked fault-sections, the northern Mianning section and the Mianning-Xichang section with lengths of 65 km and 75 km and elapsed time from the latest large earthquakes of 527 and 471 years, respectively. Along the Anninghe fault, characteristics of both the background of the first kind seismic gap and the seismicity patterns of the second seismic gap, as well as the hypocenter depth distribution of modern small earthquakes are comparable, respectively, to those appearing before the M=8.1 Hoh Xil earthquake of 2001 and to those emerging in the 20 years before the M=7.1 Loma Prieta, California, earthquake of 1989, suggesting that the Anninghe seismic gap is tending to become mature, and hence its mid-to long-term potential of large earthquakes should be noticeable. The probable maximum magnitudes of the potential earthquakes are estimated to be as large as 7.4 for both the two locked sections of the Anninghe fault.

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Supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (Grant No. 2004CB418401)

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Wen, X., Fan, J., Yi, G. et al. A seismic gap on the Anninghe fault in western Sichuan, China. Sci. China Ser. D-Earth Sci. 51, 1375–1387 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11430-008-0114-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11430-008-0114-4

Keywords

  • Anninghe fault
  • seismic quiescence
  • seismic gap
  • fault locking
  • seismic potential