Abstract

Russian regional seismicity catalogs, including those in the annual “Earthquakes of the USSR,” are contaminated by industrial explosions. In northeastern Russia, explosions occur in tin, coal, and gold mines, as well as in the construction of roads, railways, and dams. Most seismically recorded mining- and construction-related explosions have magnitudes of about 2.0 and occur during local daytime. In addition, explosions in placer mining areas are concentrated from midwinter to early spring, when frozen placers are broken up for the summer processing season. We analyzed the temporal variation of over 87,000 events occurring in northeast Russia using a newly compiled seismicity catalog to identify areas where there may be explosion contamination. Areas with temporal biases indicative of mining or other explosions include the Yana River delta and Chukotka (placers), the southern Amur district (coal mining), the trace of the Baikal–Amur railroad (construction), Lazo (quarry), the south Yakutian gold fields, and the Kolyma gold belt. The locations, and estimates of the level, of explosion contamination of the catalog suggest that the natural seismicity may be lower, and not as diffuse, along the plate boundaries in northeastern Russia than previously thought. Use of only nighttime events from the seismicity catalog, which should have a minimum of explosions, helps to clarify the extension of the Tanlu fault into Russia and may ultimately help elaborate tectonics in other areas of eastern Russia.

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