Simultaneous estimation of the dip angles and slip distribution on the faults of the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake through a weak nonlinear inversion of InSAR data
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KeywordsThe 2016 Kumamoto earthquake Inversion analysis InSAR ABIC Weak nonlinear inversion
The geometry of an inland active fault is often not well constrained; even if a clear fault trace has been observed, it is not easy to well constrain the dip angle of it. In the case of the Kumamoto earthquake, vigorous aftershocks are spatially distributed and do not clearly align on fault planes (the JMA unified earthquake catalog). For a large earthquake in a remote area, it is more difficult to determine the fault dip angle because of the poor determination of the location of seismicity. When we cannot constrain the fault geometry, the inversion analysis to estimate the slip distribution on the fault becomes nonlinear. In such a case, the dip angle has often been obtained by minimizing the square misfit under the assumption of a uniform slip on a rectangular fault (e.g., Árnadóttir and Segall 1994; Wright et al. 2003; Schmidt and Bürgmann 2006). It is not guaranteed, however, that the dip angle determined under the assumption of a uniform slip gives the best estimate for a spatially variable slip distribution.
In such situations, synthetic aperture radar interferometry (InSAR) data give valuable information in estimating fault slip distribution as well as fault geometry, because they can provide spatially very dense crustal displacement data even in a remote area, where the coverage of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and seismic networks is sparse. In May 2014, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched Advanced Land Observation Satellite 2 (ALOS-2) that equipped Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar 2 (PALSAR-2). ALOS-2 can acquire images with a much shorter interval than the previous satellite (ALOS-1), owing to a shorter recurrence interval (14 days) of the satellite orbit and a wider look angle (a ScanSAR mode). ALOS-2 can also make observation in both right and left directions, which enhances the opportunities to obtain different line-of-sight (LOS) displacements. Because of that, it has become much easier to obtain InSAR images with different LOS displacement vectors soon after a large earthquake, which significantly reduces the contamination of postseismic deformation.
As mentioned above, at least two faults moved in the case of the Kumamoto earthquake. In general, slip on a fault affects the estimate of the slip on another fault in the inversion analysis. So, we must simultaneously solve this complicated inverse problem. The nonlinearity of the inverse problem, however, is still not significant, when we can assume a flat fault plane for each fault. The unknown parameters that cause nonlinearity are only the dip angles of the two faults owing to relatively clear fault traces. So, in this study, we extend the method of Fukahata and Wright (2008) for the case of a two-fault system. With the method of Fukahata and Wright (2008), we can simultaneously determine the optimal dip angle of a fault and the slip distribution on it, based on Akaike’s Bayesian information criterion (ABIC) by regarding the dip angle as a hyperparameter. The method has been applied to several earthquakes, such as the 1995 Dinar, Turkey (Fukahata and Wright 2008), the 2008 Wenchuan, China (Enomoto et al. 2010), the 2008 Iwate-Miyagi nairiku, Japan (Fukahata 2009), and the 2010 Haiti (Hashimoto et al. 2011). If this extension has success, the method becomes a powerful tool in clarifying the slip distribution, even though a complicated rupture like the Kumamoto earthquake occurred in a remote area with sparse GNSS and seismic networks.
Using newly defined H, G, and a, we can obtain the expression of ABIC in the same form as eq. (20) of Fukahata and Wright (2008). Here, as mentioned above, we treat the dip angles, δ 1 and δ 2, as hyperparameters like the weight of smoothing. The weight of smoothing is also taken in the same way as in Fukahata and Wright (2008). The values of δ 1, δ 2 and the smoothing parameter that give ABIC minimum are adopted as the optimal ones (Akaike 1980). In the search of the global minimum of ABIC that is a function of δ 1, δ 2 and the smoothing parameter, we first take a coarse grid that spans a very wide range of these parameters, and then change the grid intervals finer and finer around the ABIC minimum. Once, we obtain the optimal values of the dip angles and smoothing parameter, we can obtain the optimal values of the usual model parameters a that give slip distribution on the faults by a usual linear inversion (Yabuki and Matsu’ura 1992; Fukahata and Wright 2008).
Statistic of ALOS-2/PALSAR-2 ScanSAR images used in this study
Perpendicular baseline (m)
Incidence angle (°)
February 9, 2015
April 18, 2016
56.5 (sw5)–44.8 (sw7)
−6.3 (sw5) to −5.4 (sw7)
65.9 (sw5)–65.4 (sw7)
January 26, 2016
April 19, 2016
188 (sw3)–187 (sw5)
−15.3 (sw3) to −16.1 (sw5)
39.0 (sw3)–41.2 (sw5)
These InSAR data images show large discontinuities in LOS displacement along the Futagawa fault. The right-looking image (Fig. 2a) shows that the south side of the fault moves to the satellite and the north side of the fault moves away from the satellite. The difference in LOS displacement amounts to 2.6 m. The left-looking image (Fig. 2b) shows mostly the opposite motion, but the amplitude of the LOS displacement is much smaller. This means that the fault slip motion is mainly right lateral, but with significant vertical slip components; the north block subsides and the south block uplifts. We can also see clear difference in displacements across the Hinagu fault, which is consistent with the findings of surface rupture along the northernmost part of it. Surface displacement in Aso caldera is also significant, particularly in the southwestern part.
Many local surface deformations possibly related to landslides were induced by the Kumamoto earthquake. These local movements often cause loss of coherence. Therefore, we excluded such areas during unwrapping from InSAR data images, but this trial was not perfect. So, in the inversion analysis, we only used the data enclosed by the yellow lines in Fig. 2a, b to reduce the effect of the contamination of signals related to landslides and other error sources.
We subsample the InSAR data using quadtree algorithm (Jónsson et al. 2002). The minimum and maximum block sizes are about 700 m and 5 km, respectively. The total number of data used in the inversion analysis is about 1900 for the image of Fig. 2a and about 1000 for Fig. 2b. Because InSAR data commonly have spatially well-correlated errors, we take the covariance components of InSAR data into account in the same way as in Fukahata and Wright (2008). That is, we assume that the covariance components exponentially decrease with the distance between InSAR data points.
By referring to the observed surface ruptures as well as the InSAR images, we set the surface traces of the two faults as shown in Figs. 1 and 2. The strikes of the Futagawa and Hinagu faults are taken to be 232° and 203°, respectively. The length of the Futagawa and Hinagu faults is 40 and 20 km, respectively, and the depth of the faults is 16 km. Because of intensive surface deformation, we do not use the InSAR data within about 2 km from the model fault traces. We focus on the broad feature of fault slip distribution by neglecting very complicated deformation near the fault traces. As for basis functions, we use bicubic B-splines with an interval of 2 km in both (horizontal and depth) directions. In the computation of Green’s function, we assume a homogenous elastic half-space of a Poisson solid with a rigidity of 3.43 × 1010 Pa.
The slip on the Futagawa fault quickly decreases to zero beyond the intersection with the Hinagu fault. On the other hand, Aso caldera does not have such an effect. The model Futagawa fault intersects with Aso caldera about −10 km in the horizontal distance. Just inside of Aso caldera, we can see a local peak of the surface displacement. This would be a cause of severe damage in this area.
Discussion and conclusions
On the other hand, the northeastern part of the Futagawa fault has another significant negative slip even for the case of the two faults (Fig. 6d), which well coincides with a relatively large misfit area in the InSAR data (Fig. 5c, d). These things suggest that something is wrong in the setting of the inversion. However, we have not been able to find the solution of this problem. For example, linearly distributed surface ruptures were found in the northwestern part of Aso caldera (Geospatial Information Authority of Japan 2016; Lin et al. 2016). So, we put another fault there, but we still obtained significant negative slips (Additional file 1: Figure S2). The result suggests that the surface ruptures found in the northwestern part of Aso caldera are what we call nontectonic faults and they are unlikely to have a deeper root. We also tried various cases by putting another fault in this area and calculated the slip distribution, but it was difficult to drastically reduce the negative slip as in the southwestern part. More complicated fault geometry, curved and/or more than one fault, may be needed. Otherwise, because the negative slip area coincides with the caldera rim of Aso volcano, something peculiar might happen, due to mass wasting, loose sediment, and/or large contrast of the elastic constants.
We also tried to use pixel offset data, range, and azimuth offsets, of path 23 and path 28 obtained by ALOS-2/PALSAR-2. The former is collected on March 7, 2016, and April 18, 2016, and the latter is collected on November 14, 2014, and April 29, 2016. The range offsets are mostly consistent with InSAR data used in this study, though look angles are slightly different, while azimuth offsets give nearly the north–south component of displacement. By inverting the range and azimuth offset data together with the InSAR data, we obtained a similar result with slightly larger amplitude in slip. However, the result also has more negative slips probably due to larger error, mainly due to inaccurate orbit, included in the pixel offset data. Because of that we avoided to use the pixel offset data in the inversion analysis of this study.
We did not use GNSS data in the inversion analysis, because our primal objective is to develop a method that can be used for a remote area, where dense GNSS and seismic networks are unavailable. We compare the synthetic displacement computed from the slip model (Fig. 4) with observed GNSS data in Additional file 1: Figure S3. Although we can see significant discrepancy at some places, local effects may also be important. For example, the blue vectors for vertical displacements show larger subsidence than the synthetic, but all the points are situated on the sedimentary layer, and so compaction might be induced by the shaking of the earthquake. Kamai (2016) also reports that a branch fault that moved at the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake passes through near by Choyo station (Green’s vectors), which must significantly affect the displacement there. Considering that the GNSS data are not used in the inversion analysis, the fitting to GNSS data (Additional file 1: Figure S3) is not bad.
Although there are the problems of negative slip and large misfit around the caldera rim, our solution looks overall reasonable (almost no negative slip) and the misfit is also small. InSAR data are well inverted to slip on the Futagawa and Hinagu faults. So, with the method developed in this study, we can reasonably estimate the slip distribution on faults for an earthquake that ruptures more than one fault in a remote area. In general, InSAR data better constrain total slip distribution on a fault than seismic data (Funning et al. 2014), because usually seismic data are directly related to slip velocities or accelerations on the fault, which must then be integrated in order to obtain slip amount, although seismic data have the ability to clarify the rupture process of an earthquake. For example, the resolution of Yagi et al. (2016) and Asano and Iwata (2016), who used teleseismic P-wave data and near-field strong motion data, respectively, seems to be not enough, although the latter well detected the largest slip area with significant normal slip components around the center of the Futagawa fault. On the other hand, the shape of the large slip area of Kubo et al. (2016), which becomes shallower from the center of the Futagawa fault to the northeast with little slip below there, is consistent with the slip distribution of this study.
YF designed this study, carried out the inversion analysis, and prepared the manuscript. MH analyzed the SAR images. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.
We thank Haruo Horikawa and anonymous reviewers for useful comments. ALOS-2/PALSAR-2 images were provided by JAXA through the Earthquake SAR Working Group (Secretariat: the Geospatial Information Authority). The copyright and the ownership belong to JAXA. The JMA unified earthquake catalog is produced by JMA in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). The GEONET data are provided by the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan. Figures were created with the GMT software by Paul Wessel and Walter H. F. Smith. This study was partly supported by MEXT KAKENHI Grant Nos. 16K05539, 26109001, and 26109003 to YF.
Both authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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