Report

Observation of Long Supershear Rupture During the Magnitude 8.1 Kunlunshan Earthquake

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Science  08 Aug 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5634, pp. 824-826
DOI: 10.1126/science.1086832

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Abstract

The 2001 Kunlunshan earthquake was an extraordinary event that produced a 400-km-long surface rupture. Regional broadband recordings of this event provide an opportunity to accurately observe the speed at which a fault ruptures during an earthquake, which has important implications for seismic risk and for understanding earthquake physics. We determined that rupture propagated on the 400-km-long fault at an average speed of 3.7 to 3.9 km/s, which exceeds the shear velocity of the brittle part of the crust. Rupture started at sub–Rayleigh wave velocity and became supershear, probably approaching 5 km/s, after about 100 km of propagation.

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