Spatio-temporal characteristics of frictional properties on the subducting Pacific Plate off the east of Tohoku district, Japan estimated from stress drops of small earthquakes

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Abstract

The east coast of the Tohoku district, Japan has a high seismicity, including aftershocks of the 2011 M9 Tohoku earthquake. We analyzed 1142 earthquakes with 4.4 ≤ MW≤ 5.0 that occurred in 2003 through 2018 and obtained spatio-temporal pattern of stress drop on the Pacific Plate that subducts beneath the Okhotsk Plate. Here we show that small earthquakes at edges of a region with a large slip during the 2011 Tohoku earthquake had high values of stress drop, indicating that the areas had a high frictional strength and suppressed the coseismic slip of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. In addition, stress drops of small earthquakes in some of the areas likely decreased after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. This indicates that the frictional strength decreased at the areas due to the following aftershocks of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, consistent with a high aftershock activity. This also supports that the frictional properties on a subducting plate interface can be monitored by stress drops of small earthquakes, as pointed out by some previous studies. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

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Yamada, T., Duan, M., & Kawahara, J. (2021). Spatio-temporal characteristics of frictional properties on the subducting Pacific Plate off the east of Tohoku district, Japan estimated from stress drops of small earthquakes. Earth, Planets and Space, 73(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40623-020-01326-8

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