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CHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF THE SURFACE RUPTURES OF THE HOH SAI HU (KUNLUNSHAN) EARTHQUAKE (M_S8.1), NORTHERN TIBETAN PLATEAU, CHINA

XU Xi-wei 1) CHEN Wen-bin 1) YU Gui-hua 1) MA Wen-tao 1) DAI Hua-guang 2) ZHANG Zhi-jian 2) CHEN You-min 2) HE Wen-gui 2) WANG Zan-jun 3) DANG Guang-ming 3) 1) Institute of Geology, China Seismological Bureau, Beiji  
On 14 November 2001, an extraordinarily large earthquake occurred on the Hoh Sai Hu segment of the Eastern Kunlun Fault, northern Tibetan Plateau. This event, named as Hoh Sai Hu (Kunlanshan) Earthquake, is the largest earthquake occurred in China continent for the past 50 years. The moment magnitude of this earthquake reaches 7.7 to 7.9 (USGS National Earthquake Information Center, 2001; Harvard CMT Catalog, 2001) and the surface wave magnitude reaches 8.1 (China Digital Seismic Network, 2001). Field investigation indicates that the surface rupture zone produced by this earthquake is striking N80°±10°W with a length of 350 km, which initiates from 91°E in the west nearby the east of Buka Daban Feng, a snow-capped summit with an altitude of 6 800m, extends eastwards along the fault traces of the Hoh Sai Hu segment, and terminates at the 94.8°E in the east. The surface ruptures of this earthquake consist of shear fractures, transtensional fractures, tension gashes and mole tracks arranged in en echelon. The shear fractures are N80°~90°W trending and dominated by left-lateral slip. Transtenssional fractures are several to tens meters long, the strike of which varies from N62°E to N65°E or from N70°E to N75°E, and are dominated by left-lateral slip with a component of tensile opening, the width of which decreases with depth. The shear and/or transtensional fractures are arranged in left-stepping or right-stepping to form releasing or restraining steps, on which tension gashes or mole tracks are developed. Tension gashes strike N45°~50°E and are developed at a releasing step to connect with the boundary shear or transtensional fractures which constrain the step in most cases. The tension gashes may also be arranged in en echelon pattern along the surface rupture zone, and especially at the termination of the surface ruptures. The mole tracks of 1.5 to 3 m height are trending 295°to 330°, which are well developed at the right-steps of the shear and/or transtensional fractures of different scales along the surface rupture zone. This surface rupture pattern appears to be purely strike-slip characterized by several meters of left-lateral offset. The maximum left-lateral offset we observed reaches 6 m at a site (93°05.384'E, 35°47.623'N), where a shallow channel bed was left-laterally offset by a single pure shear fracture. The macroscopic epicenter of the Hoh Sai Hu (Kunlunshan) earthquake is then inferred to be located at the piedmont area to the northeast of Hoh Sai Hu Lake, about 80 to 90km west of Kunlunshan Pass, in terms of the features of surface ruptures. It is postulated that this earthquake may trigger the occurrence of future large earthquake on the Dongdatan-Xidatan segment to the east of the Hoh Sai Hu segment of the Eastern Kunlunshan Fault,reflecting the eastward motion or flowing of the Tibetan Plateau along the fault.
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