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Borehole strainmeters that are installed deeply into bedrock are capable of recording both continuous stress and strain measurements, and have consequently become an important tool for monitoring crustal deformation. A YRY-4 borehole strainmeter installed at the Guza Station recorded anomalous changes in borehole strain data preceding the Wenchuan earthquake on May 12, 2008 (UTC) (=8.0). We apply principal component analysis (PCA) to analyze borehole strain data from the Guza Station. The first principal component eigenvalues and eigenvectors are calculated. The fitted results of the cumulative number of anomalous eigenvalues demonstrate that an acceleration occurred approximately 4 months before the earthquake (from January 2008). The results of the combined eigenvalue and eigenvector analyses show that the spatial distribution of eigenvectors and accelerated occurrence of eigenvalue anomalies represents the stress evolution characteristics of the fault from a steady state to a sub-instability state in rock experiments. We tentatively infer that this process may also be linked to the preparation phase of a large earthquake.
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