We investigated the distribution and migration of hypocenters of an earthquake swarm that occurred in Sendai-Okura (NE Japan) 15 days after the 2011 M9.0 Tohoku-Oki earthquake, despite the decrease in shear stress due to the static stress change. Hypocenters of 2476 events listed in the JMA catalogue were relocated based on the JMA unified catalogue data in conjunction with data obtained by waveform cross correlation. Hypocenter relocation was successful in delineating several thin planar structures, although the original hypocenters presented a cloud-like distribution. The hypocenters of this swarm event migrated along several planes from deeper to shallower levels rather than diffusing three-dimensionally. One of the nodal planes of the focal mechanisms was nearly parallel to the planar structure of the hypocenters, supporting the idea that each earthquake occurred by causing slip on parts of the same plane. The overall migration velocity of the hypocenters could be explained by the fluid diffusion model with a typical value of hydraulic diffusivity (0.15 m2/s); however, the occurrence of some burst-like activity with much higher migration velocity suggests the possibility that aseismic slip also contributed to triggering the earthquakes. We suggest that the 2011 Sendai-Okura earthquake swarm was generated as follows. (1) The 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake caused WNW–ESE extension in the focal region of the swarm, which accordingly reduced shear stress on the fault planes. However, the WNW–ESE extension allowed fluids to move upward from the S-wave reflectors in the mid-crust immediately beneath the focal region. (2) The fluids rising from the mid-crust intruded into several existing planes, which reduced their frictional strengths and caused the observed earthquake swarm. (3) The fluids, and accordingly, the hypocenters of the triggered earthquakes, migrated upward along the fault planes. It is possible that the fluids also triggered aseismic slip, which caused intermittent burst-like activity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth-Surface Processes