Shallow structure of the Tangshan fault zone unveiled by dense seismic array and horizontal-to-vertical spectral ratio method

Feng Bao, Zhiwei Li, David A. Yuen, Jianzhong Zhao, Jia Ren, Baofeng Tian, Qingjun Meng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The Tangshan fault zone has been considered to be a potential seismogenic fault from the devastating 1976 Ms 7.8 Tangshan earthquake. Based on the dense seismic array with interstation distance of ∼1 km and length of ∼40 km, HVSR (horizontal-to-vertical spectral ratio) curves at 37 stations are obtained with the micro-tremor seismic waveforms, and the two-dimensional Quaternary sedimentary structures cross the Tangshan fault zone are imaged by frequency-to-depth conversion. Results suggest that two significant seismic impedance interfaces at ∼100 m and 300–800 m depth are clearly revealed, respectively. The interface at ∼100 m depth can be attributed to the strong contrasts between the unconsolidated sand-clay and semi-consolidated silt, which suggests very small variations and is well consistent with the seismic reflection interface from shallow seismic reflection exploration. While the deeper interface at 300–800 m depth can be attributed to the Quaternary sedimentary basement, which increases from 300 to 800 m from the west to the east, and is also consistent with the results in previous studies. Rapid variations (∼200 m) of the Quaternary sedimentary basement depth just beneath the fault zone well agrees with spatial characteristics of the fault revealed by deep seismic reflection profiling. Our work suggests that the Tangshan fault zone has been significantly ruptured and modified by strong earthquake activities since Quaternary. This study also suggests that the HVSR method with dense seismic array is an efficient, effective, non-invasive and low-cost method for investigating active faults in shallow sediments. It is useful for probing the active faults buried by thick sediments in the densely populated urban settings where seismic investigation with explosive sources are too hazardous to carry out.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-54
Number of pages9
JournalPhysics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Dense seismic array
  • HVSR
  • Micro-tremors
  • Quaternary sedimentary basement
  • Tangshan fault zone

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