The coseismic slip distribution of a shallow subduction fault constrained by prior information: The example of 2011 Tohoku (Mw 9.0) megathrust earthquake

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Abstract

In the literature, the inverted coseismic slip models from seismological and geodetic data for the 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake portray significant discrepancies, in particular regarding the intensity and the distribution of the rupture near the trench. For a megathrust earthquake, it is difficult to discern the slip along the shallow part of the fault from the geodetic data, which are often acquired on land. In this paper, we discuss the uncertainties in the slip distribution inversion using the geodetic data for the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and the Fully Bayesian Inversion method. These uncertainties are due to the prior information regarding the boundary conditions at the edges of the fault, the dip subduction angle and the smoothing operator. Using continuous GPS data from the Japan Island, the results for the rigid and free boundary conditions show that they produce remarkably different slip distributions at shallow depths, with the latter producing a large slip exceeding 30 m near the surface. These results indicate that the smoothing operator (gradient or Laplacian schemes) does not severely affect the slip pattern. To better invert the coseismic slip, we then introduce the ocean bottom GPS (OB-GPS) data, which improve the resolution of the shallow part of the fault.We obtain a near-trench slip greater than 40 m that reaches the Earth's surface, regardless of which boundary condition is used. Additionally, we show that using a mean dip angle for the fault as derived from subduction models is adequate if the goal is to invert for the general features of the slip pattern of this megathrust event.

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Zhou, X., Cambiotti, G., Sun, W., & Sabadini, R. (2014). The coseismic slip distribution of a shallow subduction fault constrained by prior information: The example of 2011 Tohoku (Mw 9.0) megathrust earthquake. Geophysical Journal International, 199(2), 981–995. https://doi.org/10.1093/gji/ggu310

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