• Roger Bilham

      Articles written in Journal of Earth System Science

    • Microstrain stability of Peninsular India 1864–1994

      J Paul F Blume S Jade V Kumar P S Swathi M B Ananda V K Gaur Roland Burgmann Roger Bilham B Namboodri Dave Mencin

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      We report the results of the South Indian Strain Measuring Experiment (SISME) designed to determine whether strain related to microseismicity in the past century may have deformed the networks of the 19th century Great Trigonometrical Survey of India (GTS). More than a dozen GTS points were measured between Mangalore, Madras, and Kanyakumari in southernmost India using GPS geodesy to determine regional deformation. Detailed measurements were made near two of the original baselines of the survey to determine the reliability of dilatational strain data for the network. The regional measurements revealed negligible regional dilatational (+ 11.2 + 10 microstrain) and shear strain changes (0.66± 1.2μradians) in the southernmost 530 km of India. In addition to these measurements, we determined the rate of northward and eastward motion of a point in Bangalore (1991–1994) in the ITRF92 reference frame to be 39 ± 3.5 mm/year, and 51 ± 11 mm/year respectively. This is consistent with NUVEL-1A plate motion estimate for India. Simultaneous measurements to a point near Kathmandu reveal that the Indian plate and the Southern Himalaya are moving approximately in unison, placing an upper limit on the rate of creep processes beneath the lesser Himalaya of ≈6 mm/year, and suggesting relatively rigid behavior of the Indian plate north of Bangalore. The stability of the Indian plate is confirmed by the absence of significant changes in the lengths of the two baselines at Bangalore and Cape Comorin, which, within the limits of experimental error have not changed since 1869. The measurements place an upper limit for recent deformation in the southern peninsula, and hence a lower limit for the renewal time for intraplate earthquakes in the region of approximately 10,000 years, assuming shear failure strain of approximately 100 μradians. This, in turn, implies that recurrence intervals for Peninsular Earthquakes far exceed the length of the written historic record, suggesting that the characterisation of seismic recurrence intervals from historical studies is likely to be fruitless. In contrast, the SISME experiment demonstrates that the noise level of geodetic studies based on 19th century GTS data is less than 0.02 μstrain/year, providing considerable scope for delineating regions of anomalously high seismogenic strain, by GPS measurements at all available trig points of the 19th century GTS survey.

    • Preface

      Roger Bilham S K Srivastav

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    • Flexure of the Indian plate and intraplate earthquakes

      Roger Bilham Rebecca Bendick Kali Wallace

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      The flexural bulge in central India resulting from India's collision with Tibet has a wavelength of approximately 670 km. It is manifest topographically and in the free-air gravity anomaly and the geoid. Calculations of the stress distribution within a flexed Indian plate reveal spatial variations throughout the depth of the plate and also a function of distance from the Himalaya. The wavelength (and therefore local gradient) of stress variation is a function of the effective elastic thickness of the plate, estimates of which have been proposed to lie in the range 40–120 km. The imposition of this stress field on the northward moving Indian plate appears fundamental to explaining the current distribution of intraplate earthquakes and their mechanisms. The current study highlights an outer trough south of the flexural bulge in central India where surface stresses are double the contiguous compressional stresses to the north and south. The Bhuj, Latur and Koyna earthquakes and numerous other recent reverse faulting events occurred in this compressional setting. The N/S spatial gradient of stress exceeds 2 bars/km near the flexural bulge. The overall flexural stress distribution provides a physical basis for earthquake hazard mapping and suggests that areas of central India where no historic earthquakes are recorded may yet be the locus of future damaging events.

    • A media-based assessment of damage and ground motions from the january 26th, 2001M 7.6 Bhuj, India earthquake

      Susan E Hough Stacey Martin Roger Bilham Gail M Atkinson

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      We compiled available news and internet accounts of damage and other effects from the 26th January, 2001, Bhuj earthquake, and interpreted them to obtain modified Mercalli intensities at over 200 locations throughout the Indian subcontinent. These values are used to map the intensity distribution using a simple mathematical interpolation method. The maps reveal several interesting features. Within the Kachchh region, the most heavily damaged villages are concentrated towards the western edge of the inferred fault, consistent with western directivity. Significant sedimentinduced amplification is also suggested at a number of locations around the Gulf of Kachchh to the south of the epicenter. Away from the Kachchh region intensities were clearly amplified significantly in areas that are along rivers, within deltas, or on coastal alluvium such as mud flats and salt pans. In addition we use fault rupture parameters inferred from teleseismic data to predict shaking intensity at distances of 0–1000 km. We then convert the predicted hard rock ground motion parameters to MMI using a relationship (derived from internet-based intensity surveys) that assigns MMI based on the average effects in a region. The predicted MMIs are typically lower by 1–2 units than those estimated from news accounts. This discrepancy is generally consistent with the expected effect of sediment response, but it could also reflect other factors such as a tendency for media accounts to focus on the most dramatic damage, rather than the average effects. Our modeling results also suggest, however, that the Bhuj earthquake generated more high-frequency shaking than is expected for earthquakes of similar magnitude in California, and may therefore have been especially damaging.

    • Site response of the Ganges Basin inferred from re-evaluated macroseismic observations from the 1897 Shillong, 1905 Kangra and 1934 Nepal earthquakes

      Susan E Hough Roger Bilham

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      We analyze previously published geodetic data and intensity values for the $M_s = 8.1$ Shillong (1897), $M_s = 7.8$ Kangra (1905), and $M_s = 8.2$ Nepal/Bihar (1934) earthquakes to investigate the rupture zones of these earthquakes as well as the amplification of ground motions throughout the Punjab, Ganges and Brahmaputra valleys. For each earthquake we subtract the observed MSK intensities from a synthetic intensity derived from an inferred planar rupture model of the earthquake, combined with an attenuation function derived from instrumentally recorded earthquakes. The resulting residuals are contoured to identify regions of anomalous intensity caused primarily by local site effects. Observations indicative of liquefaction are treated separately from other indications of shaking severity lest they inflate inferred residual shaking estimates. Despite this precaution we find that intensites are 1–3 units higher near the major rivers, as well as at the edges of the Ganges basin. We find evidence for a post-critical Moho reflection from the 1897 and 1905 earthquakes that raises intensities 1–2 units at distances of the order of 150 km from the rupture zone, and we find that the 1905 earthquake triggered a substantial subsequent earthquake at Dehra Dun, at a distance of approximately 150 km. Four or more 𝑀 = 8 earthquakes are apparently overdue in the region based on seismic moment summation in the past 500 years. Results from the current study permit anticipated intensities in these future earthquakes to be refined to incorporate site effects derived from dense macroseismic data.

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