Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 59, Issue 20, pp 2396–2409 | Cite as

Quantitative study of tectonic geomorphology along Haiyuan fault based on airborne LiDAR

  • Tao Chen
  • Pei Zhen Zhang
  • Jing Liu
  • Chuan You Li
  • Zhi Kun Ren
  • Kenneth W. Hudnut
Article Geology


High-precision and high-resolution topography are the fundamental data for active fault research. Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) presents a new approach to build detailed digital elevation models effectively. We take the Haiyuan fault in Gansu Province as an example of how LiDAR data may be used to improve the study of active faults and the risk assessment of related hazards. In the eastern segment of the Haiyuan fault, the Shaomayin site has been comprehensively investigated in previous research because of its exemplary tectonic topographic features. Based on unprecedented LiDAR data, the horizontal and vertical coseismic offsets at the Shaomayin site are described. The measured horizontal value is about 8.6 m, and the vertical value is about 0.8 m. Using prior dating ages sampled from the same location, we estimate the horizontal slip rate as 4.0 ± 1.0 mm/a with high confidence and define that the lower bound of the vertical slip rate is 0.4 ± 0.1 mm/a since the Holocene. LiDAR data can repeat the measurements of field work on quantifying offsets of tectonic landform features quite well. The offset landforms are visualized on an office computer workstation easily, and specialized software may be used to obtain displacement quantitatively. By combining precious chronological results, the fundamental link between fault activity and large earthquakes is better recognized, as well as the potential risk for future earthquake hazards.


Airborne LiDAR Active fault Quantitative tectonic geomorphology Coseismic offset Cumulative offset Slip rate 


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tao Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Pei Zhen Zhang
    • 1
  • Jing Liu
    • 1
  • Chuan You Li
    • 1
  • Zhi Kun Ren
    • 1
  • Kenneth W. Hudnut
    • 3
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Earthquake Dynamics, Institute of GeologyChina Earthquake AdministrationBeijingChina
  2. 2.National Earthquake Infrastructure ServiceBeijingChina
  3. 3.United States Geological SurveyPasadenaUSA

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