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13/10/2018 Blind thrust earthquake - Wikipedia

Blind thrust earthquake

A blind thrust earthquake occurs along a thrust fault that does not show signs on the Earth's surface, hence the
designation "blind".[1] Such faults, being invisible at the surface, have not been mapped by standard surface geological
mapping. Sometimes they are discovered as a by-product of oil exploration seismology; in other cases their existence is not

Although such earthquakes are not amongst the most energetic, they are sometimes the most destructive, as conditions
combine to form an urban earthquake which greatly affects urban seismic risk.

Blind thrust faults
Examples of occurrence
Some known faults
Specific events

Blind thrust faults

Blind thrust faults generally exist near tectonic plate margins, in the broad disturbance zone. They form when a section of
the Earth's crust is under high compressive stresses, due to plate margin collision, or the general geometry of how the
plates are sliding past each other.

As shown in the diagram, a weak plate under compression generally forms

thrusting sheets, or overlapping sliding sections. This can form a hill and valley
landform, with the hills being the strong sections, and the valleys being the
highly disturbed thrust faulted and folded sections. After a long period of
Diagram of blind-thrust faulting
erosion the visible landscape may be flattened, with material eroded from the
hills filling up the valleys and hiding the underlying hill-and-valley geology.
The valley rock is very weak and usually highly weathered, presenting deep, fertile soil; naturally, this is the area that
becomes populated. Reflection seismology profiles[2] show the disturbed rock that hides a blind thrust fault.

If the region is under active compression these faults are constantly rupturing, but any given valley might only experience
a large earthquake every few hundred years. Although usually of magnitude 6 to 7 compared to the largest magnitude 9
earthquakes of recent times, such a temblor is especially destructive because the seismic waves are highly directed, and the
soft basin soil of the valley can amplify the ground motions tenfold or more.

It is said that blind thrust earthquakes contribute more to urban seismic risk than the 'big ones' of magnitude 8 or more.[3]

Examples of occurrence

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13/10/2018 Blind thrust earthquake - Wikipedia

Some known faults

Los Angeles, California, USA, has many earthquakes and is well-studied. In addition to surface faults, a number of
blind-thrust faults have been found under the basin and metropolitan area.[4][5] A NASA study which combined
satellite radar images and Global Positioning System (GPS) observations found that "tectonic squeezing across Los
Angeles" "will likely produce earthquakes on either the blind Elysian Park or Puente Hills thrust fault systems".[6]
Bajo Segura Fault Zone, Spain
Fukaya Fault System, Japan (near Tokyo)
Uemachi Fault System, Osaka Basin, Japan

Specific events
1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake
1994 Northridge earthquake
2010 Haiti earthquake
2012 Visayas earthquake

1. "Earthquake Glossary - blind thrust fault" (https://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/glossary/?term=blind%20thrust%20fault).
USGS. 2012-07-24. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
2. Pratt, Thomas L.; Shaw, John H.; Dolan, James F.; Christofferson, Shari A.; Williams, Robert A.; Odum, Jack K.;
Plesch, Andreas (2002). "Shallow seismic imaging of folds above the Puente Hills blind-thrust fault, Los Angeles,
California" (https://web.archive.org/web/20050305030422/http://faculty.washington.edu/tpratt/GRL02.pdf) (PDF).
Geophysical Research Letters. 29 (9): 18–1. Bibcode:2002GeoRL..29.1304P (http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2002Ge
oRL..29.1304P). doi:10.1029/2001GL014313 (https://doi.org/10.1029%2F2001GL014313). ISSN 0094-8276 (https://
www.worldcat.org/issn/0094-8276). Archived from the original (http://faculty.washington.edu/tpratt/GRL02.pdf) (PDF)
on March 5, 2005. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
3. Washington Post, "7.5 quake on California fault could be disastrous", 30 March 2014 (https://www.washingtonpost.co
801f27af_story.html): accessed 30 March 2014. Archived (https://web.archive.org/web/20140330204859/http://www.w
9-11e3-80de-2ff8801f27af_story.html) 30 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
4. Shaw, John H.; Suppe, John (1996). "Earthquake hazards of active blind-thrust faults under the central Los Angeles
basin, California". Journal of Geophysical Research. 101 (B4): 8623. Bibcode:1996JGR...101.8623S (http://adsabs.ha
rvard.edu/abs/1996JGR...101.8623S). doi:10.1029/95JB03453 (https://doi.org/10.1029%2F95JB03453). ISSN 0148-
0227 (https://www.worldcat.org/issn/0148-0227).
5. Shaw, John H. (1999-03-05). "An Elusive Blind-Thrust Fault Beneath Metropolitan Los Angeles" (http://www.sciencem
ag.org/cgi/content/abstract/283/5407/1516?ck=nck). Science. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
6. Perlman, D. "L.A. moves with water table / Changing water table moves L.A. / City rises and falls with annual
pumping from ground storage" (http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/L-A-moves-with-water-table-Changing-water-2884
887.php). SFGate. Retrieved 2 February 2016.

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