Long aftershock sequences in North China and Central US: Implications for hazard assessment in mid-continents

Mian Liu*, Gang Luo, Hui Wang, Seth Stein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Because seismic activity within mid-continents is usually much lower than that along plate boundary zones, even small earthquakes can cause widespread concerns, especially when these events occur in the source regions of previous large earthquakes. However, these small earthquakes may be just aftershocks that continue for decades or even longer. The recent seismicity in the Tangshan region in North China is likely aftershocks of the 1976 Great Tangshan earthquake. The current earthquake sequence in the New Madrid seismic zone in central United States, which includes a cluster of M ~ 7.0 events in 1811-1812 and a number of similar events in the past millennium, is believed to result from recent fault reactivation that releases pre-stored strain energy in the crust. If so, this earthquake sequence is similar to aftershocks in that the rates of energy release should decay with time and the sequence of earthquakes will eventually end. We use simple physical analysis and numerical simulations to show that the current sequence of large earthquakes in the New Madrid fault zone is likely ending or has ended. Recognizing that mid-continental earthquakes have long aftershock sequences and complex spatiotemporal occurrences are critical to improve hazard assessments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-35
Number of pages9
JournalEarthquake Science
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2014

Keywords

  • Aftershock
  • Earthquake
  • Earthquake hazard
  • Intraplate seismicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geophysics
  • Geology

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