Seismic Potential Around the Northeastern Edge of the Longmenshan Fault Zone as Inferred from Seismological Observations

  • Reiken Matsushita
  • Kazutoshi ImanishiEmail author
  • Makiko Ohtani
  • Yasuto Kuwahara
  • Jiuhui Chen
  • Shengli Ma


We assessed the seismic potential around the northeastern edge of the Longmenshan fault zone (LFZ) by analyzing the aftershocks of the 2008 Mw 7.9 Wenchuan earthquake, focusing on the right-lateral strike-slip Qingchuan fault (QCF). The data used in the present study were collected from a dense network of broadband seismographs, installed after the Mw 7.9 mainshock by the China Earthquake Administration. We analyzed 440 aftershocks that occurred around the northeastern part of the aftershock area between December 2008 and June 2009, the local magnitudes (ML) of which ranged from 2.0 to 5.2. We determined 127 well-constrained focal mechanism solutions for these aftershocks down to ML 2.5 by using P-wave polarity data in conjunction with body-wave amplitudes. An analysis of the stress tensor inversion revealed that, upon approaching the QCF from the LFZ, the stress field changes from a reverse faulting regime to a mixed regime containing strike-slip components and the orientation of the maximum compressional stress changes from a NW–SE to a WNW–ESE direction. This stress field favors a right-lateral strike-slip movement along the fault. The slip tendency analysis revealed that the QCF is regarded as being favorably oriented to the present-day stress field. The coseismic Coulomb stress changes induced by the mainshock increased along the preferred fault plane in the northeastern half of the QCF, which is further loaded by viscoelastic relaxation. This evidence suggests that the potential for a future earthquake in the QCF is high.


Wenchuan earthquake seismic potential Qingchuan fault stress field slip tendency Coulomb stress change 



This research was supported by the JST-MOST co-research project: Paleoseismicity and future earthquake potential of the northeastern portion of the Longmenshan fault zone and its branches (grant no. 2011DFG23400). We thank everyone working on the project, in particular its leader, Professor Yasutaka Ikeda, for his valuable contribution to the project. Dr. Takeshi Nakamura kindly provided us with his finite-fault source model. The waveform data were collected by the Institute of Geology, CEA and are archived in the China Seismic Array Data Management Center at the Institute of Geophysics, China Earthquake Administration ( The comments provided by the two anonymous reviewers were helpful in improving the manuscript. The figures were generated using Generic Mapping Tools (Wessel and Smith 1998).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geological Survey of Japan, AISTTsukubaJapan
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Earthquake DynamicsInstitute of Geology, CEABeijingChina

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