Determining fluid migration and pore pressure change within the Earth is key to understand earthquake occurrences. We investigated the spatiotemporal characteristics of the intense foreshocks and aftershocks of the 2017 ML 5.3 earthquake in Kagoshima Bay, Kyushu, southern Japan, to examine the physical processes governing this earthquake sequence. Our relocated hypocenters show the foreshocks moved on a sharply defined plane with a steep dip. The mainshock rupture initiated at the edge of the foreshock seismic gap. The size of the foreshock seismic gap is comparable to that of the mainshock estimated from the source corner frequency, suggesting this seismic gap corresponds to the large slip region of the mainshock. The aftershocks migrated upward along several steeply dipped planes with a seismicity pattern that deviated from the typical mainshock–aftershock type. This deviation of seismicity pattern, together with the hypocenter migrations, suggests aseismic processes, such as pore pressure migration and aseismic slip, affected this earthquake sequence. We established the following hypothesis. First, fluids originating from the subducting slab migrated upward and intruded into the fault plane, reducing the fault strength and causing the foreshock sequence and potentially aseismic slip. Second, the mainshock rupture occurred due to the decreased fault strength and the increased shear stress in an area with relatively high strength. Third, pore pressure increase associated with post-failure fluid discharge caused the upward aftershock migration. These observations are consistent with the fault-valve model and show the importance of fluid movement at depth not only in earthquake swarms but also in foreshock–mainshock–aftershock sequences.
- fault-valve model
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science