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Active tectonics and intracontinental earthquakes in China: The kinematics and geodynamics

By
Mian Liu
Mian Liu
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA
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Youqing Yang
Youqing Yang
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA
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Zhengkang Shen
Zhengkang Shen
State Key Laboratory of Earthquake Dynamics, Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration, Beijing 100029, China
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Shimin Wang
Shimin Wang
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA
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Min Wang
Min Wang
Institute of Earthquake Science, China Earthquake Administration, Beijing 100036, China
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Yongge Wan
Yongge Wan
School of Disaster Prevention Techniques, Yanjiao, Beijing 101601, China
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Published:
January 01, 2007

China is a country of intense intracontinental seismicity. Most earthquakes in western China occur within the diffuse Indo-Eurasian plate-boundary zone, which extends thousands of kilometers into Asia. Earthquakes in eastern China mainly occur within the North China block, which is part of the Archean Sino-Korean craton that has been thermally rejuvenated since late Mesozoic. Here, we summarize neotectonic and geodetic results of crustal kinematics and explore their implications for geodynamics and seismicity using numerical modeling. Quaternary fault movements and global positioning system (GPS) measurements indicate a strong influence of the Indo-Asian collision on crustal motion in continental China. Using a spherical three-dimensional (3-D) finite-element model, we show that the effects of the collisional plate-boundary force are largely limited to western China, whereas gravitational spreading of the Tibetan Plateau has a broad impact on crustal deformation in much of Asia. The intense seismicity in the North China block, and the lack of seismicity in the South China block, may be explained primarily by the tectonic boundary conditions that produce high devi-atoric stresses within the North China block but allow the South China block to move coherently as a rigid block. Within the North China block, seismicity is concentrated in the circum-Ordos rifts, reflecting the control of lithospheric heterogeneity. Finally, we calculated the change of Coulomb stresses associated with 49 major (M ≥ 6.5) earthquakes in the North China block since 1303. The results show that ∼80% of these events occurred in regions of increasing Coulomb stresses caused by previous events.

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GSA Special Papers

Continental Intraplate Earthquakes: Science, Hazard, and Policy Issues

Seth Stein
Seth Stein
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Stéphane Mazzotti
Stéphane Mazzotti
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Geological Society of America
Volume
425
ISBN print:
9780813724256
Publication date:
January 01, 2007

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