Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 62, Issue 5, pp 832–842 | Cite as

Rotational motions of the Ms7.0 Jiuzhaigou earthquake with ground tilt data

  • Cong ZhouEmail author
  • Xiangzhi Zeng
  • Qingliang Wang
  • Wenyi Liu
  • Cuizhi Wang
Research Paper


Observation and research of rotational motions induced by earthquake has been ignored in the past decades due to the lack of understanding of important ground rotational motions and practical difficulty involved in directly measuring the rotational components. Currently, there is a paucity of methods to directly measure rotational motions in China. The present study attempts to discuss the possibility of obtaining seismic rotation from ground tilt data. The rotational motions generated by shear dislocation source are derived based on the displacement formula of elastic wavefields in the homogenous space. The characteristics of the three components of translational and rotational motions in near, intermediate, and far fields are compared and analyzed. Based on the corresponding relationship between the rotation and ground tilt on free surface boundary, a method to indirectly construct the rotational motions in the layered half space is obtained. Finally, the theoretical rotational motions generated by the Ms7.0 earthquake in Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan Province, on August 8, 2017 are calculated. The results indicate that the rotational motions generated by the Jiuzhaigou earthquake are concentrated in the vicinity of the epicenter (approximately 150 km) and mainly distributed in the area perpendicular to the fault strike. The existence of free surface boundary attenuates the total energy of the rotational field and especially in the direction of the dominant energy. The ground tilt data is compared with rotational motions in the layered half space, and the results indicate that theoretical rotations and actual ground tilt data are essentially consistent, especially in the far field region. Thus, it is possible to obtain horizontal components of rotation from ground tilt data, and this provides more information for a complete description of the motion characteristics of an underground medium.


Rotational motions Layered half space Jiuzhaigou earthquake Ground tilt Strike slip fault 


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The ground tilt data was provided by Data Center of Gravity and Crustal Deformation ( and Shaanxi Earthquake Agency. The authors thank the anonymous referees for their insightful comments that contributed to improving the study. The study was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2018YFC1503405) and Spark Programs of Earthquake Sciences (Grant No. XH17060Y).

Supplementary material

11430_2018_9320_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (188 kb)
Appendix: Three components of rotational motions in an infinite, homogeneous, and isotropic medium


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cong Zhou
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Xiangzhi Zeng
    • 3
  • Qingliang Wang
    • 1
  • Wenyi Liu
    • 1
  • Cuizhi Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.The Second Monitoring and Application CenterChina Earthquake AdministrationXi’anChina
  2. 2.Institute of GeologyChina Earthquake AdministrationBeijingChina
  3. 3.Institute of GeologyChinese Academy of Geological SciencesBeijingChina

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