Large inland earthquakes bigger than Mj 7.2 during the historical past on Japanese islands have mostly been generated from active faults (Matsuda,1998). The 2000 Tottoriken-seibu earthquake of Mj 7.3 (Mw 6.6), however, occurred in the area where distinctive active faults were not mapped before the earthquake, and the surface ruptures associated with the earthquake were small and sparse. Active faults are hardly recognized even by detailed interpretation of aerial photographs after the earthquake but sharp lineaments. In Chugoku district in southwest Japan is characterized by less densely-distributed active faults with lower activities than other areas in Japan, and the 1943 Tottori earthquake of M 7 occurred by reactivation of the Shikano fault with rather obscure fault traces.
Taking this condition, in mind, we carried out detailed mapping of active faults and lineaments, and compared with their topographical, geological, seismological and tectonic settings, in order to develop a new technique to find potential seismogenic faults.
The results obtained are as follows;
1) Active faults and lineaments were not evenly distributed, and the dense zone is recognized along the Japan Sea while the sparse zone in the central part of the district. The active faults known before are mainly located in the dense zone (Fig.1).
2) The lineaments mapped are mostly less than 10km long, and half of them strike to NE-SW or ENE-WSW and 30 per cent to NW-SE or WNW-ESE (Fig.2). NE-SW lineaments prevail in the western part of the district, and NW-SW lineaments are systematically distributed only in the western-most and eastern-most area of the district probably reflecting their tectonic setting under the present stress condition.
3) Lineaments with poor topographical manifest were not commonly recognized by individual geologist, and were generally short, scattered, isolated, random in strike, and independent from geological structures. These lineaments will not be considered as potential seismogenic faults.
4) Epicenters of the small earthquakes are characteristically distributed to the north of the backbone range probably coincided with the past volcanic front. On the contrary, the area to the south of the backbone range the seismicity is sparse, except for several swarms. These seismic condition well matches with the distribution of active faults and well-defined lineaments (Fig.3).
5) Most of the active faults and lineaments follow the pre-existed geological faults that had moved opposite direction to the active faulting, indicating their inversion movements under the present stress field.
6) Surface ruptures reported as earthquake faults associated with the 2000 Tottoriken-seibu earthquake are considered as results of subsidiary shallow-sheeted faulting spontaneously caused by stain release around the seismogenic faulting in depth, because many of them appeared spontaneously, and not always along rather well-defined lineaments. They are small in extent and displacement. Therefore, it is rather difficult for evaluate such minor surface fault ruptures, but such ruptures may not displace the surface in large extent.