Abstract

Worldwide occurrence and documentation of reverse-type ruptures are sparse. Near Hongkou, the Wenchuan rupture passes through the broad Baisha River valley and provides excellent opportunities to trace the surface faulting in fine details for 13 km distance, one of the longest continuous sections along the entire rupture. In this paper, we present the results of our mapping of the surface rupture in this reach. Based on the discontinuities in slip and geometry, the rupture was divided into four sections for convenience, from west to east: the Shenxi Gou, the Miaoba, the Gaoyuan, and the Bajiao Miao sections, respectively. The vertical offset is large in the Shenxi Gou and the Bajiao Miao sections, locally reaching 5–6 m in maxima, and generally low in the Miaoba section (1–2 m or less in most places). The slip gradient for vertical offset is generally 10-3, locally up to 10-1, similar to that in well-documented strike-slip ruptures. Near Gaoyuan village, the surface rupture consists of two subparallel branches, with the northern one exhibiting right-lateral slip with minor southeast-side-up thrusting, while the southern one is almost pure southeast-side-up thrusting. This pattern mimics the incomplete slip-partitioning of oblique thrusting on parallel faults but at a local scale. In addition, the sense of vertical throw on these two strands is opposite to the general northwest-side-up thrusting of the Wenchuan rupture. We propose that it is likely due to the inheritance at shallow depth from the southeast-dipping geological faults, and that old fault zone structures can have a strong effect on the dynamic rupture by guiding the rupture propagation onto paths of preexisting, though locally unfavorable, dipping fault planes. We also discuss the cross-cutting slickenside striations observed near Bajiao Miao, which indicated temporal rake rotation during dynamic rupture, and their geological and seismological implications.

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