abstract

The Tangshan earthquake (Ms = 7.7), of July 27, 1976 and its principal aftershock (Ms = 7.2), which occurred 15 hr following the main event, resulted in the loss of life of over 650,000 persons in northeast China. This is the second greatest earthquake disaster in recorded history, following the 1556 Shensi Province, Chinese earthquake in which at least 830,000 persons lost their lives. Detailed analyses of the teleseismic surface waves and body waves are made for the Tangshan event. The major conclusions are: (1) The Tangshan earthquake sequence is a complex one, including strike-slip, thrust, and normal-fault events. (2) The main shock, as determined from surface waves, occurred on a near vertical right-lateral strike-slip fault, striking N40°E. (3) A seismic moment of 1.8 × 1027 dyne-cm is obtained. From the extent of the aftershock zone and relative location of the main shock epicenter, symmetric (1:1) bilateral faulting with a total length of 140 km may be inferred. If a fault width of 15 km is assumed, the average offset is estimated to be 2.7 meters with an average stress drop of about 30 bars. (4) The main shock was initiated by an event with a relatively slow onset and a seismic moment of 4 × 1026 dyne-cm. The preferred fault-plane solution, determined from surface-wave analyses, indicates a strike 220°, dip 80°, and rake −175°. (5) Two thrust events follow the strike-slip event by 11 and 19 sec, respectively. They are located south to southwest of the initial event and have a total moment of 8 × 1025 dyne-cm. This sequence is followed by several more events. (6) The principal aftershock was a normal-fault double event with the fault planes unconstrained by the P-wave first motions. Surface waves provide additional constraints to the mechanism to yield an oblique slip solution with strike N120°E, dip 45°SW, and rake −30°. A total moment of 8 × 1026 dyne-cm is obtained. (7) The triggering of lesser thrust and normal faults by a large strike-slip event in the Tangshan sequence has important consequences in the assessment of earthquake hazard in other complex strike-slip systems like the San Andreas.

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