Abstract

The Bulnay earthquake of 23 July 1905 (Mw 8.3–8.5), in north‐central Mongolia, is one of the world’s largest recorded intracontinental earthquakes and one of four great earthquakes that occurred in the region during the twentieth century. The 375 km long surface rupture of the left‐lateral, strike‐slip, N095°E‐trending Bulnay fault associated with this earthquake is remarkable for its pronounced expression across the landscape and for the size of features produced by previous earthquakes. Our field observations suggest that in many areas the width and geometry of the rupture zone is the result of repeated earthquakes; however, in those areas where it is possible to determine that the geomorphic features are the result of the 1905 surface rupture alone, the size of the features produced by this single earthquake are singular in comparison to most other historical strike‐slip surface ruptures worldwide. Along the 80 km stretch, between 97.18° E and 98.33° E, the fault zone is characterized by several meters width and the mean left‐lateral 1905 offset is 8.9±0.6  m with two measured cumulative offsets that are twice the 1905 slip. These observations suggest that the displacement produced during the penultimate event was similar to the 1905 slip. Morphotectonic analyses carried out at three sites along the eastern part of the Bulnay fault allow us to estimate a mean horizontal slip rate of 3.1±1.7  mm/yr over the Late Pleistocene–Holocene period. In parallel, paleoseismological investigations show evidence for two earthquakes prior to the 1905 event, with recurrence intervals of ∼2700–4000  yrs.

Online Material: Table of 10Be concentrations with sampling information, high‐resolution stratigraphic and topographic maps, and 10Be analyses at various sites.

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