Heat flow anomaly on the seaward side of the Japan Trench associated with deformation of the incoming Pacific plate

Makoto Yamano, Hideki Hamamoto, Yoshifumi Kawada, Shusaku Goto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Extensive heat flow measurements were conducted on the seaward side of the Japan Trench for investigation of the extent and the origin of high heat flow previously found on the incoming Pacific plate. The obtained data combined with the existing data showed that high and variable heat flow values are pervasively distributed seawards of the northern half of the trench and within about 150 km of the trench axis. In this anomalous zone, the average heat flow is 60 to 70mW/m2, appreciably higher than the value typical for the seafloor age of about 135 m.y. The occurrence of the anomalous heat flow along the trench indicates that it results from processes closely related to deformation of the incoming plate. Heating by intra-plate "petit-spot" volcanism and/or fluid flow along normal faults developed on the trench slope may yield local heat flow peaks but cannot raise regional average heat flow. The most probable cause of the observed widespread anomalous heat flow is efficient vertical heat transport by hydrothermal circulation in a permeable layer in the oceanic crust, which is gradually developed by fracturing due to plate bending. Similar heat flow and temperature structure anomalies on the seaward side of the trench may exist in other subduction zones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-204
Number of pages9
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Heat flow
  • Hydrothermal circulation
  • Japan Trench
  • Pacific plate
  • Subduction zone
  • Thermal structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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