Source history of the 1905 great Mongolian earthquakes (Tsetserleg, Bolnay)



Two great Mongolian earthquakes, Tsetserleg and Bolnay, occurred on 1905 July 9 and 23. We determined the source history of these events using body waveform inversion. The Tsetserleg rupture (azimuth N60°) correspond to a N60° oriented branch of the long EW oriented Bolnay fault.

Historical seismograms recorded by Wiechert instruments are digitized and corrected for the geometrical deformation due to the recording system. We use predictive filters to recover the signals lost at the minute marks.

The total rupture length for the Tsetserleg earthquake may reach up to 190 km, in order to explain the width of the recorded body waves. This implies adding 60 km to the previously mapped fault. The rupture propagation is mainly eastward. It starts at the southwest of the central subsegment, showing a left lateral strike-slip with a reverse component. The total duration of the modelled source function is 65 s. The seismic moment deduced from the inversion is 1021 N m, giving a magnitude Mw= 8.

The nucleation of the Bolnay earthquake was at the intersection between the main fault (375 km left lateral strike-slip) and the Teregtiin fault (N160°, 80 km long right lateral strike-slip with a vertical component near the main fault). The rupture was bilateral along the main fault: 100 km to the west and 275 km to east. It also propagated 80 km to the southeast along the Teregtiin fault. The source duration was 115 s. The moment magnitude Mw varies between 8.3 and 8.5.

The nucleation and rupture depths remain uncertain. We tested three cases: (1) nucleation and rupture depth limited to the seismogenic zone; (2) nucleation in the seismogenic zone and rupture propagation going to the base of the crust and (3) nucleation within the crust–upper mantle interface and rupture propagation within the upper mantle.