Regional earthquakes in northern Tibetan Plateau: Implications for lithospheric strength in Tibet

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Abstract

[1] A total of 400 regional earthquakes were located in northern Tibetan Plateau from data recorded by INDEPTH-IV and PKU Eastern Kunlun arrays from May 2007 to June 2009. The distribution of these earthquakes is compatible with a continuously deforming Tibetan lithosphere. Most earthquakes occur at a depth range of 0-15 km, but no event is deeper than 30 km. This observation strongly supports the existence of a hot and weak lower crust beneath the northern Tibet. The crustal seismogenic zone appears slightly thicker beneath the northern Tibet than in the southern plateau, possibly reflecting a difference in the rheological (dry vs. wet) structure of the crust. The absence of lower crustal and uppermost mantle earthquakes in northern Tibet is consistent with a localized asthenospheric upwelling under the Qiangtang and Songpan-Ganze terranes. Finally, the lack of mantle earthquakes should be fully addressed in any models of subduction in northern Tibet.

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