The active fault belts in eastern Tibet margin inferred using magnetotellurics


  • G. ZHAO Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration. Beijing 100029, China
  • L. WANG Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration. Beijing 100029, China
  • X. CHEN Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration. Beijing 100029, China
  • J. TANG Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration. Beijing 100029, China
  • Z. WAN Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration. Beijing 100029, China
  • Y. ZHAN Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration. Beijing 100029, China
  • Q. XIAO Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration. Beijing 100029, China
  • J. CAI Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration. Beijing 100029, China
  • J. ZHANG arthquake Administration of Shandong Province. Jinan 250014, China
  • J. WANG Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration. Beijing 100029, China



Eastern margin of Tibetan plateau, Active fault, Electrical structure, Channel flow, Wenchuan Earthquake


A magnetotelluric (MT) sounding has been carried out in the eastern margin of the Tibetan plateau. The survey line is about 145 km long, trending in NEE direction and crossing the Daliangshan block in the eastern edge of the Tibetan plateau. The field measurements acquired effective data of 68 sites. Through data processing and a 2-D inversion with consideration of topography, a 2-D electrical structure model of crust and upper mantle was constructed. The structure reveals that there is a deep electrical boundary between the Daliangshan block in the west and Sichuan block in the east. West to the boundary, the crust has a relatively low resistivity with respect to the east and can be divided into three layers, the middle layer has low-resistivity with a minimum of 3-10 Ω·m, presumably associated with partial melt and/or salty fluids. Beneath the intersection area of the Anninghe fault, the Xianshuihe fault and the Longmenshan fault, which the MT profile crosses, the faults are separated into upper and lower sections. The upper section exhibits a nearly vertical low-resistivity zone in the upper crust, and the lower section manifests an electrical boundary in the lower crust and upper mantle. Other faults in the Daliangshan block are either nearly vertical low-resistivity zones or electrical boundaries. It is suggested that the formation of the low-resistivity layer in the middle crust is associated with the southeastward motion of the eastern margin of the Tibetan plateau, clockwise rotation of the Chuandian (Sichuan-Yunnan) block, and the westward obstruction from the Sichuan block in Huanan terrain. Seismicity, including the M 8.0 Wenchuan earthquake in the study area, is discussed.


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