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SCIENCE CHINA Earth Sciences, Volume 60, Issue 5: 821-857(2017) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11430-016-9009-1

Crustal and upper mantle structure and deep tectonic genesis of large earthquakes in North China

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  • ReceivedNov 16, 2016
  • AcceptedFeb 6, 2017
  • PublishedMar 30, 2017

Abstract

From the 1960s to 1970s, North China has been hit by a series of large earthquakes. During the past half century, geophysicists have carried out numerous surveys of the crustal and upper mantle structure, and associated studies in North China. They have made significant progress on several key issues in the geosciences, such as the crustal and upper mantle structure and the seismogenic environment of strong earthquakes. Deep seismic profiling results indicate a complex tectonic setting in the strong earthquake areas of North China, where a listric normal fault and a low-angle detachment in the upper crust coexist with a high-angle deep fault passing through the lower crust to the Moho beneath the hypocenter. Seismic tomography images reveal that most of the large earthquakes occurred in the transition between the high- and low-velocity zones, and the Tangshan earthquake area is characterized by a low-velocity anomaly in the middle-lower crust. Comprehensive analysis of geophysical data identified that the deep seismogenic environment in the North China extensional tectonic region is generally characterized by a low-velocity anomalous belt beneath the hypocenter, inconsistency of the deep and shallow structures in the crust, a steep crustalal-scale fault, relative lower velocities in the uppermost mantle, and local Moho uplift, etc. This indicates that the lithospheric structure of North China has strong heterogeneities. Geologically, the North China region had been a stable craton named the North China Craton or in brief the NCC, containing crustal rocks as old as ~3.8 Ga. The present-day strong seismic activity and the lower velocity of the lower crust in the NCC are much different from typical stable cratons around the world. These findings provide significant evidence for the destruction of the NCC. Although deep seismic profiling and seismic tomography have greatly enhanced knowledge about the deep-seated structure and seismogenic environment, some fundamental issues still remain and require further work.


Funded by

National Natural Science Foundation of China(91014006,90914005 ,&, 41474073)


Acknowledgment

The authors thank Professors Liu Guodong, Zhang Xiankang and Liu Qiyuan for their sincere cooperation in the exploration and research of the Earth’s deep-seated structure in the Chinese mainland. We also thank Ding Zhifeng, Wu Jianping, Wang Fuyun, Liu Baojin, Li Yonghua, and Chang Lijun for the profitable discussions, and thank the editor in chief and three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 91014006, 90914005 & 41474073).


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  • Figure 1

    Geologic setting of North China (from Wang et al., 1989). 1, Basin uplift area; 2, Basin subsidence area; 3, Offshore subsidence area; 4, Block motion direction; 5, Basin extension direction; 6, Block shearing direction; 7, Fault; 8, Earthquakes; 9, Basin boundary. Triple-letters denote tectonic units: ODB, Ordos Block; YIM, Yinshan Mountains; YAM, Yanshan Mountains; QDM, Qinling-Dabie Mountains; THM, Taihang Mountains; TLF, Tanlu fault zone; NCB, North China basin; JDU, Jiaodong uplift; LXU, Luxi uplift; HHB, Hehuai basin; ZMZ, Zhuangmu-Zhanggongdu DSS profile. Thick line denotes a DSS profile in the southern North China.

  • Figure 2

    Epicentral distribution of earthquakes with M≥5.0 (26 BC–2004 AD) in North China. A, Zhangjiakou-Bohai seismic zone; B, Hebei plain seismic zone; C, Fenwei seismic zone; and D, Seismic zone along the western margin of the Ordos block. Purple circle denotes earthquakes with M≥8.0.

  • Figure 3

    Location of DSS and the deep seismic reflection profiles in North China (revised from Sun et al. (1988) and Duan et al. (2016)). The red line indicates the DSS profile, and the purple line is the deep seismic reflection profile. Name and code of each profile follow Sun et al. (1988), where H-01 is Baigezhuang-Fengnan-Fengning profile, H-19 is Tai’an-Longyao-Xinzhou profile, and VI is Wuqing-Rexian profile. The recently completed DSS profiles (black line) are as follows: 1, Anxin-Xianghe-Kuancheng profile (Wang et al., 2006); 2, Wendeng-Alxa Zuoqi profile (Wang et al., 2014); 3, Yancheng-Baotuo profile (Duan et al., 2015); and 4, Zhucheng-Yichuan profile (Li et al., 2011). Lines AA’ and BB’ denote the position of the cross-sections, where the 2-D velocity structures were intercepted from the 3–D crustal model HBCrust1.0 in Figure 4.

  • Figure 4

    2-D crustal structures along cross-sections AA′ and BB′ in the 3-D model HBCrust1.0 (Duan et al., 2016). The positions of lines AA′ and BB′ are shown in Figure 3. The circle is a focus projection of the earthquake with M≥3.0, which occurred within 0.2° of both sides from the cross-section during 1970–2015. (a) Crustal structure along line AA′ (39.4°N); and (b) crustal structure along line BB′ (118.2°E).

  • Figure 5

    Crustal velocity structure along the ZMZ DSS profile (from Wang et al., 2000). (a) 2-D P-wave crustal structure. Dashed line at distance of 240–260 km indicates the Moho offset. (b) Geological interpretation of the Dabieshan orogenic structure (see discussion in Wang et al., 2000).

  • Figure 6

    2-D crustal conductivity structures along the EMAP profile in the Xingtai earthquake area (from Deng et al., 1998). The location of the EMAP is shown in Figure 16a. Thin line denotes the conductivity isoline, and the number denotes the value of the base-10 logarithm (units: Ω m). The solid circle denotes the focal position of the MS7.2 earthquake, and the dashed line beneath the focal source is the inferred high-angle deep fault (Fd).

  • Figure 7

    Bouguer gravity anomaly map of North China (unit: 10−5 m s−2). The anomaly data are from EMG2008 (Pavlis et al., 2012). The contour interval is 10×10−5 m s−2. Red line denotes the fault.

  • Figure 8

    3-D P-wave velocity structure inferred from regional travel-time data inversion (from Yang, 2016). (a)‒(d) show P-wave velocity VP and VP/VS at the depth of 15 and 30 km, respectively. The circle denotes the epicenter of the earthquake (M≥5), and the star denotes the Sanhe-Pinggu M8 earthquake.

  • Figure 9

    (a) Locations of the broadband seismic stations of the NCSEA (from Wang W L et al., 2012). Triangles and squares represent the temporary stations of the NCSEA and the permanent stations of the national and regional networks, respectively. Green denotes broadband seismic station, and red denotes ultra-broadband seismic station. 1, Tanghai-Shangdu profile; 2, Qingshuihe-Dezhou profile. (b) Based on the seismic records of the NCSEA, shear wave velocity perturbation at 90 km depth in the North China region (from Yang et al., 2012). Units: Percentage of dVs/Vs. Black solid circles denote the geographical location in Beijing, Tangshan and Shijiazhuang.

  • Figure 10

    Rayleigh wave phase velocity map of the northern part of North China (from Wang W L et al., 2012). (a)‒(d) represent the Rayleigh wave phase velocity maps at 10, 15, 25, and 60 s, respectively. The black circles represent major cities in North China. The red dashed line denotes the Taihang gravity lineament. The red dots denote earthquakes with MS≥6.0. Double-letters denote local tectonic units: HT, Hohhot-Takaso basin; YH, Yanqing-Huailai basin; YY, Yangyuan-Yuxian basin; DT, Datong basin; JZ, Jizhong depression; HH, Huanghua depression; CX, Cangxian uplift.

  • Figure 11

    S-wave velocity structures of the crust and upper mantle along the Tanghai-Shangdu profile inferred by joint inversion of the receiver function and the phase velocity dispersion of the Rayleigh wave (From Wang W L et al., 2009). Inverted triangles indicate the station positions. H is elevation. The red and blue circles denote the earthquakes (M≥5.0) in a 40-km-wide corridor belt along the profile. The blue circles are: 1, 1337 Huailai M6.5 earthquake; 2, 1679 Sanhe-Pinggu M8 earthquake; 3, 1976 Tanshan MS7.8 earthquake; and 4, 1998 Zhangbei MS6.2 earthquake. Due to the lack of focal depth data, the Huailai M6.5 earthquake and the Sanhe-Pinggu M8 earthquake were not included in the figure.

  • Figure 12

    Crustal thickness and Poisson’s ratio in North China derived from the H-κ stacking analysis of the receiver function. The circle denotes the epicenter of the earthquake (M≥6). (a) Crustal thickness distribution; (b) Crustal Poisson’s ratio distribution.

  • Figure 13

    Statistical analysis of the correlation between crustal thickness and Poisson’s ratio in North China, where red, green and black circles denote the stations in North China basin, Ordos block and Yinshan-Yanshan orogenic belt, respectively.

  • Figure 14

    Seismological lithospheric thickness distribution maps in North China. (a) Map of LAB in North China which is produced from the results of the S-wave receiver function analysis (Chen, 2010); a Gaussian cap with radius of 50 km and maximum effective radius of 120 km was used in the depth interpolation. White circles mark the locations of rapid changes observed in the LAB depth. LU, Luxi Uplift; BBB, Bohai Bay Basin; TM, Taihang Mountains; LM, Lüliang Mountains; YM, Yan Mountains; YinM, Yin Mountains; Ordos, Ordos block; YC-HT, Yinchuan-Hetao rift systems; YC, Yangtze Craton; CAOB, Central Asia Orogenic Belt. (b) Lithospheric thickness distribution derived by Rayleigh wave dispersion analysis (from Li et al., 2013). (c) Lithospheric thickness derived by S-wave receiver functions in NCSEA (from Wang X C et al., 2016). ENCC, TNCO (i.e., CNCC) and WNCC stand for Eastern NCC, Trans-North China Orogen, and Western NCC, respectively. The gray band (NSGL) indicates the gravity lineament in eastern China. Note that the panels have different color scales.

  • Figure 15

    SKS-wave splitting observation in North China. The direction and length of the red bar denote the fast-wave direction and the slow-wave time delay of the SKS wave splitting, respectively. The circle denotes the epicenter of the earthquake (M≥6). The direction of the thick arrow represents the absolute plate motion (APM) direction in North China.

  • Figure 16

    Deep seismic reflection profiles in the Xingtai earthquake area (from Wang et al., 1997a). (a) Regional tectonic background and locations of deep seismic reflection profiles and EMAP profile, and focal mechanisms of the MS6.8 and MS7.2 earthquakes. The single letter indicates the profile: A, Ningjin-Xinhe profile; B, Lincheng-Julu profile; C, Renxian-Ningjin profile. Dashed line denotes EMAP profile. (b) Line drawing section of Ningjin-Xinhe profile. (c) Line drawing section of Lincheng-Julu profile. (d) Line drawing section of Renxian-Ningjin profile. ①, Ningjin fault; ②, Xinhe fault; ③, Detachment in the middle crust; ④, Acuate reflection events; ⑤, Crocodile reflection events. The rhombus denotes the focus of the MS6.8 or MS7.2 earthquakes. The dashed line below the focus denotes the inferred high-angle crustal fault.

  • Figure 17

    Deep seismic reflection profiles in the Tangshan earthquake area. (a) Location of deep seismic reflection profiles denoted by thick lines; (b) Line drawing section of line TS2 (modified from Lu et al., 1988). (c) CDP stack section of the Tangshan-Fengning profile (from Liu et al., 2011a); TQ, TN, TMz and TO, and TC-P are the reflections from the Quaternary, Neogene, Mesozoic, and Paleozoic Ordovician and Carboniferous-Permian strata, respectively. TC and TM are the reflections from the interface between the upper and lower crust and from the crust-mantle transition, respectively. F1F8 are shallow faults. Fd is the inferred crustal deep fault.

  • Figure 18

    Crustal structures of the seismic velocity and conductivity in the Tangshan earthquake area. (a) 2-D crustal velocity structure along the Baigezhuang-Fengnan-Fengning DSS profile (units: km s−1) (from Liu and Jia, 1986). (b) Electrical structure along the Baigezhuang-Tangshan-Malanyu MT profile (from Liu et al., 1984). The solid circle denotes the focal position of the 1976 Tangshan MS7.8 earthquake. Oblique lines denote the location of the high conductivity layer, and the dotted line is the isothermal line. (c) Schematic diagram of crustal structure in the Tangshan earthquake area (revised from Liu et al., 1982). 1, Cenozoic sedimentary; 2, Mesozoic-Paleozoic sedimentary; 3, Pre-Sinian metamorphic series; 4, Upper crust; 5, Intracrustal low velocity-high conductive layer; 6, Middle crust; 7, Lower crust; 8, Hard cover of upper mantle; 9, Asthenosphere; 10, G-interface in upper crust; 11, Conrad interface; 12, Moho discontinuity; 13, Upwelling of asthenosphere; 14, Lateral sliding in upper crust; 15, Lateral rheology in lower crust; 16, Fault; 17, Tangshan MS7.8 earthquake; 18, Coastline; 19, Location of the broken section; 20, Average heat flow value of the tectonic unit. The shadow region of the middle and lower crust denotes the low velocity anomaly area obtained by seismic tomography.

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