Worldwide, slip on earthquake faults causes numerous disasters, resulting in large losses in human life and built structures. To minimize future losses associated with earthquakes along such faults, it is important to precisely locate the faults relative to the built environment and to determine the subsurface geometry of the faults. In Beijing, China, we used shallow-depth geophysical methods to evaluate the location and subsurface geometry of the Huangzhuang-Gaoliying fault (HGF), one of the principal tectonic faults of Beijing area. We used seismic reflection and refraction tomography, multi-channel analysis of surface waves (MASW), and paleoseismic trenching to characterize the north section of HGF near the Gaoliying section of Beijing. Our seismic images indicated that there are at least two strands of the HGF that are distributed over an approximately 200-m-wide zone. We identified a principal fault strand (F1) that is observed in all the seismic images, as well as in a paleoseismic trench. The F1 strikes approximately N49°E and dips southeastward at 70° to 75°. Over the past few years, surface ruptures have occurred along the HGF in several locations, but it is unclear if the surface ruptures were the result of tectonic slip on the HGF or were related to land subsidence along the fault.

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