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China Earthquake: British Geological Survey Data

British Geological Survey (UK)

China Earthquake: British Geological Survey data

DATE: 12 May 2008
ORIGIN TIME : 06:28 00s UTC
LAT/LONG : 31.104 Degrees North / 103.270 Degrees East
DEPTH : 10 km
LOCALITY : Eastern Sichuan, China (90 km WNW of Chengdu, Sichuan; 1545 km SW of Bejing, China)

Latest reports suggest that over 8500 people have been killed by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in the south-western Chinese province in Sichuan. The earthquake occurred 92 km northwest of the city of Chengdu in eastern Sichuan province and over 1500 km from Beijing, where it was also strongly felt. Earthquakes of this size have the potential to cause extensive damage and loss of life.

The epicentre was in the mountains of the Eastern Margin of Qing-Tibet Plateau at the northwest margin of the Sichuan Basin. The earthquake occurred as a result of motion on a northeast striking thrust fault that runs along the margin of the basin.

The seismicity of central and eastern Asia is caused by the northward movement of the India plate at a rate of 5cm/year and it's collision with Eurasia, resulting in the uplift of the Himalaya and Tibetan plateau and associated earthquake activity. This deformation also results in the extrusion of crustal material from the high Tibetan Plateau in the west towards the Sichuan Basin and southeastern China.

China frequently suffers large and deadly earthquakes. In August 1933 a magnitude 7.5 earthquake about 90 km notheast of today's earthquake destroyed the town of Diexi and surrounding villages, and caused many landslides, some of which dammed the rivers. Approximately 9,000 people died, though damage is Chengdu was slight.

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