The Tibetan Plateau is considered to be one of the best natural laboratories for seismological research. This study sought to determine the spatial variations of b-values in the western part of the Tibetan Plateau, along with its surrounding areas, and the relation with the region’s fault blocks. The study region lies within 27–36.5° N, 78–89° E, and its fracture structure consists of strike-slip faults, as well as normal and thrust faults. A catalog record from 2009–2019 provided 4431 well-centered earthquakes that varied in magnitude from 0.1 to 8.2 M. The record was obtained from China’s seismological network, which is capable of recording low magnitudes to analyze b-values in the study area. The key findings of this study are as follows: (1) the range of earthquake depth in the region was 0–256 km, with the depth histogram showing a high frequency occurrence of shallow earthquakes in the area; (2) a time histogram showed that the major earthquakes occurred between 2014–2015, including the notable 2015 Gorkha earthquake (M = 8.2); (3) the b-value computed in the study area was 0.5 to 1.6, but in most of the study area, the b-value ranged from 0.6 to 0.9, which was a low to intermediate value, due to the presence of strike-slip faults in the central part of the study area and underthrusting in the region (south of the study area); and (4) a high b-value was found in the northwestern and eastern regions of the area, which proved that the area is prone to small earthquakes in the near future. The study also showed that the central and southern areas of the study region had low to intermediate b-values, meaning that it is prone to destructive and massive earthquakes with high magnitudes, such as the Gorkha earthquake (southern part of the study area). Low b-values revealed the degree of variation in rock properties, including large stress and strain, a fractured medium, a high deformation rate, and large faults. Small b-values were observed when the stress level was high in the investigated region, which might be used to predict a massive high-magnitude earthquake in the near future.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This study is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41174021, No. 41474093) and China’s International Education Funding for Chinese-Pakistani students.