Three-dimensional P- and S-wave velocity structures beneath Japan

Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-0810, Japan
Physics of The Earth and Planetary Interiors (Impact Factor: 2.9). 05/2008; 168(1-2):49-70. DOI: 10.1016/j.pepi.2008.04.017


We determined the three-dimensional Vp and Vs structures beneath Japan by applying seismic tomography to a large number of arrival times recorded at temporary stations in the Japan Sea and the Pacific Ocean, as well as those at permanent stations on the Japan Islands. As a result, we obtained more precise seismic images than previous studies. In the crust and the uppermost mantle, southwestern Honshu exhibited weaker heterogeneity than the other areas in Japan, corresponding to the distribution of active volcanoes. Stripe-like heterogeneities exist in the subducting Pacific slab. Relatively low-velocity zones correspond to low-seismicity areas in the Pacific slab, suggesting that the slab is possibly torn or thin around the areas. The fact that nonvolcanic deep tremors associated with the subducting Philippine Sea slab beneath Shikoku, Kii, and Tokai do not occur in zones of high Vp, high Vs, and low Vp/Vs ratio may reflect the existence of fluids generated by the dehydration processes of the slab. Prominent and wide low Vp and Vs zones exist beneath central Honshu at the depth range of 30–60 km, where the volcanic front related to the subducting Pacific plate is located and seismicity around the Philippine Sea plate is very low. This condition may exist because magma genesis processes related to the subducting Pacific plate activate the same processes around the Philippine Sea plate.

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    • "Extremely low P-wave velocities along the plate interface at depths of around 10–20 km suggest that the layer may include fluid, clay minerals , and/or serpentine–chlorite (Mochizuki et al., 2005). Stripe-like heterogeneities have been revealed by measurements of this type in the subducting Pacific slab: relatively low-velocity zones correspond to low-seismicity areas in this slab (Nakamura et al., 2008). A region with a high Poisson's ratio may also correspond to a serpentinized mantle wedge and appears to be coincident with the aseismic slip zones, such as the slow-slip and afterslip events (Tahara et al., 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Given that active faults can slide either continuously by aseismic creep or episodically during earthquakes, and that the same fault zone may evolve laterally from seismic to aseismic deformation, an important issue is to know whether seismic to aseismic transition can be geologically controlled. This article presents examples of contrasted mechanical behaviour along active faults that cross cut limestone and marl units within the sedimentary cover of the French Alps. By matching seismic events along strike-slip and normal faults with the nature and structure of the rocks, it is demonstrated that the partition between seismic and aseismic sliding at depth is geologically controlled: earthquakes nucleate in the strongest rocks, mainly limestones, whereas marls accommodate at least part of the tectonic loading by aseismic creep. By looking at exhumed rocks deformed in the same context it is possible to identify the mechanism of creep, which is shown to be pressure solution creep either as a permanent or post-seismic creep. As earthquakes slip are seen to propagate through the whole upper crust, creep processes do not necessarily prevent an earthquake rupture from propagating through creeping units. However, creep relaxes stress and consequently reduces the available elastic potential energy at the origin of earthquakes in such creeping zones. The key parameters of pressure solution creep laws are presented and discussed. Using these laws, it is possible to infer why marl may creep more easily than limestone or why highly fractured limestone may creep more easily than intact rock. This approach also identifies other rocks that could creep by pressure solution in subduction zones and indicates how creeping zones may act as barriers for earthquake rupture propagation. Finally, the criteria possibly revealing geological control of the transition between seismic and aseismic sliding at depth are discussed with respect to subduction zones.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · Tectonophysics
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    • "Following the previous tomographic studies in Japan (e.g. Zhao et al. 1994; Abdelwahed & Zhao 2007; Nakamura et al. 2008; Huang et al. 2011; Tong et al. 2012), the Conrad and Moho depth variations and the subducting Pacific slab are taken into account in the modelling space (Figs S2 and S3). Previous studies show that the Pacific slab becomes stagnant in the mantle transition zone under East Asia (e.g. "
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    ABSTRACT: A high-resolution P-wave tomography of the crust and mantle down to 700 km depth beneath the Japan Islands is determined using a large number of high-quality arrival-time data from local earthquakes and teleseismic events simultaneously. The tomography shows that the Philippine Sea slab is subducting aseismically down to 430 km depth under southwest Japan, though the seismicity within the slab ends at 180 km depth. A low-velocity (low-V) zone in the mantle wedge under Tohoku and Kyushu is found to extend westward from the volcanic front to the backarc under the Japan Sea and East China Sea. Significant low-V anomalies are revealed in the deep portion of the mantle wedge (400-500 km depth) above the Pacific slab under southwest Japan, which may reflect hot mantle upwelling associated with fluids from the deep dehydration of the Pacific slab. Low-V anomalies appear at 420-700 km depths beneath the Pacific slab under eastern Japan, which may reflect hot mantle upwelling associated with the deep subduction of the Pacific slab and its collapsing down to the lower mantle.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2012 · Geophysical Journal International
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    ABSTRACT: Recent studies of intra-plate seismicity have focused on detailed earthquake locations and potential hypotheses for intermediate depth events. Three main competing hypotheses for intra-plate events are: (1) transformational faulting; (2) shear melt instabilities; and (3) dehydration reactions. Recent work, using precise hypocenters and thermal-petrological models, indicates that the spatial distribution of intra-plate events coincides with dehydration reactions. These studies have mainly focused on the location of events and the proposed reactions with little attention given to the magnitude distribution of events. Presented here is a magnitude–depth correlation associated with intra-plate events for southwest Japan. Earthquake hypocenters were obtained from relocating a data set consisting of Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) seismicity data and Japan University Network Earthquake Catalog (JUNEC). Data from 1985 to 1996 were combined and relocated using a standard location routine (HypoInverse) that allows regional variations in velocity models and station corrections. HypoInverse results show a well defined plane of seismicity associated with the subducting Philippine Sea Plate. The data were further relocated using a double-difference relocation algorithm (HypoDD). HypoDD results show a magnitude–depth correlation for Kii peninsula and northern Kyushu. Histogram plots indicate that events near the plate interface were generally magnitude 3 or less, whereas most large events were located within the lower crust or possibly the subducting oceanic mantle. This observation also appears to hold true for intra-plate events beneath Tohoku (Japan trench) and Hokkaido (Kuriles), but is not clearly observed beneath the Tokai region. A dehydration reaction model can well explain the magnitude–depth correlation.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2004 · Physics of The Earth and Planetary Interiors
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