Research ArticleGEOPHYSICS

Lateral variation of the Main Himalayan Thrust controls the rupture length of the 2015 Gorkha earthquake in Nepal

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Science Advances  26 Jun 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 6, eaav0723
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav0723


The Himalaya orogenic belt produces frequent large earthquakes that affect population centers along a length of over 2500 km. The 2015 Gorkha, Nepal earthquake (Mw 7.8) ruptured the Main Himalayan Thrust (MHT) and allows direct measurements of the behavior of the continental collision zone. We study the MHT using seismic waveforms recorded by local stations that completely cover the aftershock zone. The MHT exhibits clear lateral variation along geologic strike, with the Lesser Himalayan ramp having moderate dip on the MHT beneath the mainshock area and a flatter and deeper MHT beneath the eastern end of the aftershock zone. East of the aftershock zone, seismic wave speed increases at MHT depths, perhaps due to subduction of an Indian basement ridge. A similar magnitude wave speed change occurs at the western end of the aftershock zone. These gross morphological structures of the MHT controlled the rupture length of the Gorkha earthquake.

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