Seismic assessment of the Weihe Graben, central China: Insights from geomorphological analyses and 10Be-derived catchment denudation rates

Chuanqi He, Ci Jian Yang, Gang Rao*, Xiao Ping Yuan, Duna C. Roda-Boluda, Yali Cheng, Rong Yang, Li Zhang, Qi Yao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The tectonic activity and potential for linkage of adjacent active faults are crucial for seismic assessment. As the two largest faults that bound the Weihe Graben (central China), the Qinling Northern Piedmont Fault (QNF, ~200 km) and the Huashan Piedmont Fault (HPF, ~150 km) are mainly responsible for seismic risk in this densely-populated area, where the 1556 M 8.5 Huaxian earthquake occurred with 830,000 fatalities. However, their tectonic activity and the degree of interaction remain poorly constrained, hampering an adequate seismic risk assessment of the Weihe Graben. Here, we integrate 23 new 10Be-derived catchment-averaged denudation rates of ~0.06–0.32 mm/yr with topographic metrics to evaluate the seismic risk. The results demonstrate that the landscape of the Qinling and Huashan Mountains is in transient state in response to the tectonic perturbations of the QNF and the HPF, with tectonic knickpoints formed along main streams and tributaries, and widespread unstable drainage divides. These two faults have comparable tectonic activity, and are potentially capable of generating earthquakes with the maximum magnitude of Mw ~7.7–7.9. Moreover, they have likely started linking, posing a greater seismic risk than previously estimated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107151
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Be-derived denudation rates
  • Active normal faults
  • Central China
  • Seismic risk
  • Topographic indices
  • Weihe Graben

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