The regional moment tensor of the 5 May 2014 Chiang Rai earthquake (Mw = 6.5), Northern Thailand, with its aftershocks and its implication to the stress and the instability of the Phayao Fault Zone

Publication Date : 2016-09-01
Author : Noisagool, S.S. BoonchaisukP. PornsopinW. Siripunvaraporn
Countries : Thailand
Disaster Management Theme :
Disaster Type : Earthquake
Document Type : Research Paper
Languange : en
Link :

Abstact :

On 5 May 2014, the largest earthquake in Thailand modern history occurred in Northern Thailand with over a thousand aftershocks. Most of the epicenters are located within the transition area of the Mae Lao segment (north) and Pan segment (central) of the Phayao Fault Zone (PFZ). Good quality data from all events (ML > 4) are only available for the seismic stations closer to the epicenters (<500 km). The regional moment tensor (RMT) inversion was applied to derive a sequence of thirty focal mechanisms, moment magnitudes and source depths generated along the PFZ. Our studies reveal that 24 events are strike – slip with normal (transtensional), four are strike – slip with thrust (transpressional), and two are reverse. The main shock has an Mw of 6.5, slightly larger than previously estimated (ML 6.3) while Mw of the aftershocks is mostly lower than ML. This suggests that a regional magnitude calibration is necessary. The hypocenter depths of most events are around 11 km, not as shallow as estimated earlier. In addition, a stress inversion was applied to these 30 focal mechanisms to determine the stresses of the region, the Mohr’s diagram, and the principal fault planes. The retrieved maximum stress direction (N18E) is in agreement with other studies. One of the derived principal fault plane with a strike of N48E is in good agreement with that of the Mae Lao segment. Both estimated shape ratio and plunges led us to conclude that this area has a uniaxial horizontal compression in NNE-SSW with small WNW-ESE extension, similar to the interpretation of Tingay et al. (2010). Based on the Mohr’s diagram of fault plane solutions, we provide geophysical evidence which reveals that the high shear stress Mae Lao segment is likely to slip first producing the main shock on 5 May 2014. The energy transfer between the segments has then led to many aftershocks with mixed mechanisms. At the end, we re-visited the analysis of the former largest earthquake in Northern Thailand in the past decades, the 11 September 1994 event. Its focal mechanism was re-calculated based on the available P-wave polarities. The strike – slip motion should be the mechanism of the earthquake, not the normal motion as originally believed.