Seismicity near the hypocenter of the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku earthquake deduced by using ocean bottom seismographic data

Research paper by Kensuke Suzuki, Ryota Hino, Yoshihiro Ito, Yojiro Yamamoto, Syuichi Suzuki, Hiromi Fujimoto, Masanao Shinohara, Masao Abe, Yoshiharu Kawaharada, Yohei Hasegawa, Yoshiyuki Kaneda

Indexed on: 28 Jan '13Published on: 28 Jan '13Published in: Earth, Planets and Space


We relocated hypocenters of the foreshock, mainshock, and aftershocks of the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku earthquake (M 9.0) in the middle part of the Japan Trench where the earthquake rupture initiated. Ocean Bottom Seismographs (OBSs), deployed in the area, recorded the earthquakes and these data provide improved images of the hypocenter distribution. The mainshock hypocenter was relocated slightly westward from that reported by Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), placing it near the intersection between the plate boundary and the Moho of the overriding plate. The foreshock seismicity mainly occurred on the trenchward side of the mainshock hypocenter, where the Pacific slab contacts the island arc crust. The foreshocks were initially activated at the up-dip limit of the seismogenic zone ~30 km trenchward of the largest foreshock (M 7.3, two days before the mainshock). After the M-7.3 earthquake, intense interplate seismicity, accompanied by epicenters migrating toward the mainshock hypocenter, was observed. The focal depth distribution changed significantly in response to the M-9 mainshock. Earthquakes along the plate boundary were almost non-existent in the area of huge coseismic slip, whereas earthquakes off the boundary increased in numbers in both the upper and the lower plates.