Progressive Seismic Failure, Seismic Gap, and Great Seismic Risk across the Densely Populated North China Basin
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Although the seismically active North China basin has the most complete written records of pre-instrumentation earthquakes in the world, this information has not been fully utilized for assessing potential earthquake hazards of this densely populated region that hosts ~200 million people. In this study, we use the historical records to document the earthquake migration pattern and the existence of a 180-km seismic gap along the 600-km long right-slip Tangshan-Hejian-Cixian (THC) fault zone that cuts across the North China basin. The newly recognized seismic gap, which is centered at Tianjin with a population of 11 million people and ~120 km from Beijing (22 million people) and Tangshan (7 million people), has not been ruptured in the past 1000 years by M≥6 earthquakes. The seismic migration pattern in the past millennium suggests that the epicenters of major earthquakes have shifted towards this seismic gap along the THC fault, which implies that the 180- km gap could be the site of the next great earthquake with M≈7.6 if it is ruptured by a single event. Alternatively, the seismic gap may be explained by aseismic creeping or seismic strain transfer between active faults.