12 May 2008 M = 7.9 Wenchuan, China, earthquake calculated to increase failure stress and seismicity rate on three major fault systems

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Coulomb stress
Earthquake probability
Stress transfer
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.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2008. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Geophysical Research Letters 35 (2008): L17305, doi:10.1029/2008GL034903.
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Geophysical Research Letters 35 (2008): L17305
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