The 12 September 2016 ML5.8 midcrustal earthquake in the Korean Peninsula and its seismic implications

Tae Kyung Hong, Junhyung Lee, Woohan Kim, In Kyeong Hahm, Nam Chil Woo, Seongjun Park

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45 Citations (Scopus)


The seismicity in the Korean Peninsula has increased since the 2011 Mw9.0 Tohoku-Oki megathrust earthquake. Two strike-slip earthquakes with magnitudes of ML5.1 and 5.8 occurred in the southeastern Korean Peninsula on 12 September 2016. The two events occurred within 48 min. The ML5.8 earthquake was the largest event in the Korean Peninsula since 1978 when national seismic monitoring began. Both events produced strong high-frequency ground motions. More than 500 aftershocks with local magnitudes greater than or equal to 1.5 followed the events for 2 months. An unreported subsurface strike-slip fault with a dip of 65° to the east and a strike of N27°E was responsible for the earthquakes. The fault ruptured at depths of 11–16 km, resulting in a rupture plane of ∼26 km2. The aftershock distribution displayed horizontal streaks at a depth of ∼14 km, which was consistent with the focal mechanism solutions from long-period waveform inversion. The number of aftershocks decreased exponentially with time. The two ML5.1 and 5.8 earthquakes produced regional Coulomb stress changes of −4.9 to 2.5 bar. The spatial distribution of the aftershocks correlated with the Coulomb stress changes. The peak dynamic stress induced by strong ground motions reached 14.2 bar. The groundwater levels changed coseismically in some regions of decreased static stresses. The earthquakes on previously unidentified faults raised attention for the potential seismic hazards by earthquakes with long recurrence intervals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3131-3138
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Apr 16

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Jeroen Ritsema (editor) and two anonymous reviewers for valuable review comments. The seismic waveform data analyzed in this study were collected from the website of the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA,, which is open to the public. This work was supported by the Korea Meteorological Administration Research and Development Program under grant KMIPA 2015-7040. In addition, this research was partly supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF-2015R1D1A1A01060198).

Publisher Copyright:
©2017. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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