EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The stress field model of the South China Sea calculated by sea level data from satellites

Han Shi1,2, Jinyao Gao2, Mingju Xu2,3,4, and Qingsheng Guan2,5
Han Shi et al.
  • 1College of Marine Science and Technology, China University of Geosciences, China (
  • 2Key Laboratory of Submarine Geosciences, Second Institute of Oceanography, MNR, Hangzhou 310012, China
  • 3School of Earth Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310007 , China
  • 4Department of Marine Sciences, Zhejiang University, Zhoushan 316021, China.
  • 5School of Geography and Ocean Science,Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023 , China.

The South China Sea (SCS) is situated at the junction of Eurasian, Indo-Australian, and Philippine sea plates. Its stress state provides significant information about the regional tectonic structure associated with interaction among the three plates. The stress field of the SCS is composed of horizontal and vertical stress fields. We calculate the vertically averaged deviatoric stress field using horizontal gradients of gravitational potential energy obtained by high-resolution sea-surface height data (SSH) from satellite Haiyang-2A. The vertical tectonic stress field is computed based on the Bouguer gravity anomaly derived from SSH and topographic data.

The vertically averaged deviatoric stress field is consistent with the GPS velocity field, the focal mechanism, and the mantle flow stress field of the South China Sea. Moreover, it also indicates the Red River-Ailaoshan Fault zone on the west of the SCS and the Manila subduction on the east. The vertical tectonic stress field removing the influence of sediment indicates upward stress of the lithosphere in the SCS ocean basin. The stress field model therefore provides a powerful tool for understanding regional tectonic activities around the SCS.

How to cite: Shi, H., Gao, J., Xu, M., and Guan, Q.: The stress field model of the South China Sea calculated by sea level data from satellites, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14684,, 2021.

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