Crustal and upper mantle structure and the deep seismogenic environment in the source regions of the Lushan earthquake and the Wenchuan earthquake

Yong Zheng, Can Ge*, Zu Jun Xie, Ying Jie Yang, Xiong Xiong, Hou Tze Hsu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


Following the M w7.9 Wenchuan earthquake, the M w6.6 Lushan earthquake is another devastating earthquake that struck the Longmenshan Fault Zone (LFZ) and caused severe damages. In this study, we collected continuous broadband ambient noise seismic data and earthquake event data from Chinese provincial digital seismic network, and then utilized ambient noise tomography method and receiver function method to obtain high resolution shear wave velocity structure, crustal thickness, and Poisson ratio in the earthquake source region and its surroundings. Based on the tomography images and the receiver function results, we further analyzed the deep seismogenic environment of the LFZ and its neighborhood. We reveal three main findings: (1) There is big contrast of the shear wave velocities across the LFZ. (2) Both the Lushan earthquake and the Wenchuan earthquake occurred in the regions where crustal shear wave velocity and crustal thickness change dramatically. The rupture faults and the aftershock zones are also concentrated in the areas where the lateral gradients of crustal seismic wave speed and crustal thickness change significantly, and the focal depths of the earthquakes are concentrated in the transitional depths where shear wave velocities change dramatically from laterally uniform to laterally non-uniform. (3) The Wenchuan earthquake and its aftershocks occurred in low Poisson ratio region, while the Lushan earthquake sequences are located in high Poisson ratio zone. We proposed that the effect of the dramatic lateral variation of shear wave velocity, and the gravity potential energy differences caused by the big contrast in the topography and the crustal thickness across the LFZ may constitute the seismogenic environment for the strong earthquakes in the LFZ, and the Poisson ratio difference between the rocks in the south and north segments of the Longmenshan Fault zone may explain the 5 years delay of the occurrence of the Lushan earthquake than the Wenchuan earthquake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1158-1168
Number of pages11
JournalScience China Earth Sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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