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Stress rise precursor to earthquakes in the Tibetan Plateau

DOI: 10.4236/ns.2013.58A1006, PP. 46-55

Keywords: Earthquake Prediction, High Stress Anomalies, In-Situ Stress Measurement, Large Earthquakes, Seismic Fault, Tibetan Plateau

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Abstract:

Earthquake prediction thus far has proven to be a very difficult task, but changes in situ stress appear to offer a viable approach for forecasting large earthquakes in Tibet and perhaps other continental regions. High stress anomalies formed along active faults before large earthquakes and disappeared soon after the earthquakes occurred in the Tibetan Plateau. Principle stress increased up to ~2 - 5 times higher than background stress to form high stress anomalies along causative faults before the Ms 8.1 West Kunlun Pass earthquake in November 2001, Ms 8.0 Wenchuan earthquake in May 2008, Ms 6.6 Nimu earthquake in October 2009, Ms 7.1 Yushu earthquake in April 2010 and the Ms 7.0 Lushan earthquake in April 2013. Stress near the epicenters rapidly increased 0.10 - 0.12 MPa over 45 days, ~8 months before the Ms 6.6 Nimu earthquake occurred. The high principle stress anomalies decreased quickly to the normal stress state in ~8 - 12 months after the Ms 8.1 West Kunlun Pass and the Ms 8.0 Wenchuan earthquakes. These high stress anomalies and their demise appear directly related to the immediate stress rise along a fault prior to the earthquakes and the release during the event. Thus, the stress rise appears to be a viable precursor in prediction of large continental earthquakes as in the Tibetan Plateau.

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