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Long-Term Evolution of the Deviatoric Background Stress in the Focal Region of the 2011 Tohoku-Oki Earthquake

  • Tian-Jue LiEmail author
Article
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Abstract

On 11 March 2011, a giant interplate earthquake of magnitude Mw 9.1 struck Tohoku-Oki area in eastern Japan. The earthquake is acknowledged to have permanently altered the stress field in and around the focal region. To capture the temporal change of the overall stress field, I examined 1251 focal mechanisms, from the NIED MT catalog, that occurred before and after the Tohoku-Oki earthquake from January, 2006 to January, 2017 in the focal region near the subducting slab. The examined observations were grouped into six periods, and based on the selected NIED MT catalog, the stress regime in each period was obtained by using the damped stress tensor inversion method. Based on the temporal evolution of stress rotation, the corresponding deviatoric stress level was estimated using a simplified 2D model. Results of the 10-year seismic stress cycle show that several years before the Tohoku-Oki earthquake, the stress accumulation level seems to have experienced an acceleration process. Studies suggest that this increasingly critically stress state combined with the sufficiently reduced coupling rate off the Tohoku area finally resulted in the unprecedented megathrust event. The coseismic process was violent and released almost all of the deviatoric stress that presented before the main shock. The resultant stress state even reached frictional overshoot. Thus, the postseismic stress pattern in the source region was reshaped significantly, especially for the upper plate and updip portion of the lower plate. After the main shock near the rupture surface, a surprisingly rapid and high-level stress reloading occurred within several postseismic years. To reconcile the classical subduction zone earthquake generation cycle model, the event may be described as an instantaneously decoupled stress state between the upper and inner plates.

Keywords

Tohoku-Oki earthquake stress rotation stress drop ratio seismic stress cycle 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I am very grateful to Roland Bürgmann and the two anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful and constructive comments that improved the manuscript. I am also very grateful to the guest editor Yehuda Ben-Zion and the Springer Nature Corrections team for their diligent work to facilitate the publication. In this study, I used the focal mechanisms from the NIED catalog (Kubo et al. 2002). I also used the damped stress tensor inversion method named SATSI (Hardebeck and Michael 2006). The topography data used in Fig. 1 comes from Etopo1 (Amante and Eakins 2009). The figures in this paper were prepared using GMT (Wessel and Smith 1998). This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41474041).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 3915 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Geodesy and Earth’s Dynamics, Institute of Geodesy and GeophysicsChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Earth and Planetary Physics, Institute of Geology and GeophysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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