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2008 May 12 06:28:00 UTC

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Earthquake Details

Location31.021°N, 103.367°E
Depth10 km (6.2 miles) set by location program
Distances80 km (50 miles) WNW of Chengdu, Sichuan, China
140 km (90 miles) WSW of Mianyang, Sichuan, China
345 km (215 miles) WNW of Chongqing, Chongqing, China
1545 km (950 miles) SW of BEIJING, Beijing, China
Location Uncertaintyhorizontal +/- 4.9 km (3.0 miles); depth fixed by location program
ParametersNST=233, Nph=233, Dmin=592.2 km, Rmss=1.24 sec, Gp= 25°,
M-type=moment magnitude (Mw), Version=A
Event IDus2008ryan
  • This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.
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Earthquake Summary

Small globe showing earthquakeSmall map showing earthquake

Earthquake Summary Poster

  • The following is a release by the United States Geological Survey, National Earthquake Information Center: An earthquake occurred 90 km (55 miles) WNW of Chengdu, Sichuan, China and 1545 km (960 miles) SW of BEIJING, Beijing, China at 12:28 AM MDT, May 12, 2008 (2:28 PM local time in China). The magnitude and location may be revised when additional data and further analysis results are available.

  • Felt Reports

    At least 8,500 people killed. Felt widely in China. Also felt in parts of Thailand and Taiwan.

    Tectonic Summary

    The Sichuan earthquake of May 12, 2008, occurred as the result of motion on a northeast striking reverse fault or thrust fault on the northwestern margin of the Sichuan Basin. The earthquake's epicenter and focal-mechanism are consistent with it having occurred as the result of movement on the Longmenshan fault or a tectonically related fault. The earthquake reflects tectonic stresses resulting from the convergence of crustal material slowly moving from the high Tibetan Plateau, to the west, against strong crust underlying the Sichuan Basin and southeastern China.

    On a continental scale, the seismicity of central and eastern Asia is a result of northward convergence of the India plate against the Eurasia plate with a velocity of about 50 mm/y. The convergence of the two plates is broadly accommodated by the uplift of the Asian highlands and by the motion of crustal material to the east away from the uplifted Tibetan Plateau.

    The northwestern margin of the Sichuan Basin has previously experienced destructive earthquakes. The magnitude 7.5 earthquake of August 25, 1933, killed more than 9,300 people.

    Earthquake Information for Asia

    PodCast Interview with NEIC Seismologist Harley Benz