The Wenchuan earthquake on the Longmen Shan fault zone devastated cities of Sichuan, claiming at least 69,000 lives. We calculate that the earthquake also brought the Xianshuihe, Kunlun and Min Jiang faults 150-400 km from the mainshock rupture in the eastern Tibetan Plateau 0.2-0.5 bars closer to Coulomb failure. Because some portions of these stressed faults have not ruptured in more than a century, the earthquake could trigger or hasten additional M > 7 earthquakes, potentially subjecting regions from Kangding to Daofu and Maqin to Rangtag to strong shaking. We use the calculated stress changes and the observed background seismicity to forecast the rate and distribution of damaging shocks. The earthquake probability in the region is estimated to be 57-71% for M ≥ 6 shocks during the next decade, and 8-12% for M ≥ 7 shocks. These are up to twice the probabilities for the decade before the Wenchuan earthquake struck.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)