Detrital 10Be Response to the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake and Quantifying Evacuation of Coseismic Landslide Debris

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Wei Wang1, Vincent Godard2, Jing Liu-Zeng1, Dirk Scherler3, Chong Xu1, Qiang Xu4, Kejia Xie5, Olivier Bellier2, Didier L Bourles2 and Claire Ansberque2, (1)Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration, Beijing, China, (2)CEREGE, Aix en Provence, Cx 4, France, (3)California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, United States, (4)ITP Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China, (5)Non-ferrous Mineral Exploration Engineering Research Center of Henan Province, Zheng Zhou, China
In reverse fault-bounded high relief mountain ranges, large-magnitude earthquakes contribute to the topographic growth by co- and inter-seismic surface uplift on the hanging wall. Meanwhile, they also trigger widespread landslides along ridge lines or hillslopes. Coseismic landsliding lowers relief and causes a phase of high erosion in the period following the quake. The net effect of large-magnitude earthquakes in topographic evolution of active orogens partially depends on how fast the landslide debris are being evacuated out of the mountain range. The 2008 Mw7.9 Wenchuan earthquake, China activated the Longmen Shan reverse fault system in eastern Tibetan plateau, also induced enormous amount of landslides, volume comparable to the coseismic uplift, providing an excellent opportunity to address the question. We use cosmogenic 10Be concentration in river sand as a tracer to study the sediment routing process of coseismic landslide debris, because landslide debris contains low 10Be concentration. We sampling annually during 2008-2013, at 19 locations along the rivers that traverse the fault ruptures, with upstream catchment area varying between 4.4 km2 and 21775 km2, including 10 catchments sampled before Wenchuan earthquake in 2004 and 2005. A comparison with pre-earthquake measurements show reduced 10Be concentration at all sites. This dilution is more significant for small catchments on short range-front rivers: mostly half to one-fourth, and down to one-fifth in some cases. Multi-year time series of 10Be concentration at single sites show roughly constant level of dilution six years after the quake, with moderate temporal fluctuations, which may be related to the variation in precipitation and storm intensity. Under the assumption of constant dilution rate and a depth-mixing of 10Be concentration for landslide input, a simple calculation indicates it would take ~ 200 to 3000 years to completely evacuate the landslides debris within range-front transverse rivers, due to the tremendous amount of material piled at the valley bottoms. This is a large fraction of or comparable to the 2000- to 3000-year return time of Wenchuan-type large-magnitude earthquakes, and orders of magnitude longer than the well-studied case of 1999 Mw7.6 Chi-Chi earthquake at the western foothill of the Central Range of Taiwan.