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2008 March 20 22:33:00 UTC

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Earthquake Details

  • This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.
Location35.445°N, 81.392°E
Depth22.9 km (14.2 miles) (poorly constrained)
Distances225 km (140 miles) SE of Hotan, Xinjiang, China
380 km (235 miles) ENE of Leh, Kashmir
620 km (385 miles) ENE of Srinagar, Kashmir
3105 km (1930 miles) W of BEIJING, Beijing, China
Location Uncertaintyhorizontal +/- 6.6 km (4.1 miles); depth +/- 24.8 km (15.4 miles)
ParametersNST=145, Nph=145, Dmin=969 km, Rmss=0.93 sec, Gp= 25°,
M-type=centroid moment magnitude (Mw), Version=8
Event IDus2008pvcl
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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 230 km (140 miles) SE of Hotan, Xinjiang or 3105 km (1930 miles) W of Beijing, China at 3:33 PM MST, Mar 20, 2008 (Mar 21 at 6:33 AM local time in China). The magnitude and location may be revised when additional data and further analysis results are available.

  • Felt Reports

    Four houses collapsed at Pulu and about 2,200 houses destroyed or damaged in Lop, Qira and Yutian. A total of 46,594 people were displaced in Xinjiang. Felt at Aqqan and Bostan.

    Tectonic Summary

    The earthquake occurred as a result of normal faulting in the tectonically complex region of the northern Tibetan Plateau. This earthquake occurred several hundred kilometers north of the convergent India-Eurasia plate boundary, where the Indian Plate is moving northwards with respect to Eurasia at a rate of approximately 46 mm/yr. This convergence drives the uplift of the Himalaya Mountains, at a rate of approximately 10 mm/yr, and the Tibetan Plateau, which is an extremely broad region of thickened and uplifted crust sitting above 4.5-5.0 km.

    The uplifted Tibetan Plateau is spreading to the east and, as a result, is an area of east-west extension and eastward crustal motion within a larger region of generally north-south convergence. The Xinjiang-Xizang earthquake likely reflects the interplay amongst these major tectonic forces, dominated in this location by east-west extension. The eastward motion of Tibet, with respect to Eurasia further north, is accommodated in part by the large intra-continental Altyn Tagh and Kunlun strike-slip fault systems. The March 20, 2008 event is one of the largest known historical earthquakes to have occurred in the northern Tibetan Plateau west of the Kunlun Fault System. In 1996, a 6.9Mw earthquake occurred approximately 300 km further west.

    Earthquake Information for Asia