Recent seismic and aseismic activity in the Ashikule stepover zone, NW Tibet

Lidong Bie, Isabelle Ryder

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Three large earthquakes occurred in the Ashikule stepover zone, NW Tibet in 2008 (Mw 7.1), 2012 (Mw 6.2) and 2014 (Mw 6.9). In this paper we use InSAR data to examine the 2008 event in detail, and place it in the context of both recent/possible future events and regional tectonic environment.We present InSAR data covering the coseismic and post-seismic phases of the 2008 event, and invert for slip distributions during both phases in order to examine the spatial relationship between earthquake rupture and afterslip. To account for the curved rupture trace as mapped in the field, we model the slip on a non-planar fault. A change in slip sense from left-lateral in the north to extensional in the south is consistent with the focal mechanism of aftershocks.We find that afterslip occurs around the perimeter of the coseismic slip, although in a patchy way, as seen in other normal faulting case studies. We calculate the Coulomb stress changes imparted by the 2008 earthquake on neighbouring faults, including stress loading on the subsequent rupture zones of the 2012 and 2014 earthquakes. We also compute the combined loading effect of the 2008, 2012 and 2014 earthquakes on the nearby Altyn Tagh Fault, which hasn't experienced a major earthquake since early last century. This study demonstrates that stepover zone failure can increase stresses on bounding strike-slip faults, which likely has relevance in analogous tectonic environments elsewhere in the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1632-1643
Number of pages12
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014


  • Asia
  • Dynamics and mechanics of faulting
  • Radar interferometry
  • Seismicity and tectonics
  • Time-series analysis

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