July 1, 2008
An article published recently in the journal Nature provides in-depth details about the area where the Wenchuan earthquake hit and particularly the state of stress in the crust of the Earth in the area.
The article, having been submitted to the journal just days after the earthquake, warned that the large magnitude earthquake had possibly increased failure stress on important faults in the Sichuan area – a factor which could lead to further damaging earthquakes. The authors confirmed that rapid mapping of the stress changes would help to locate the areas with “relatively higher odds of producing large aftershocks.” (Editor’s note: according to the USGS, the largest quake in a cluster is the mainshock, and those after it are called aftershocks)
The authors add that there can be delays of years, and up to decades, between earthquakes and aftershocks and locating potential zones of aftershock can be helpful in reducing future negative impacts. (Editor’s note: also see Chinese calls for a moratorium on dam-building in China`s south west region)