The northeastern Japan arc is located in one of the most seismically active subduction zones in the world. In this study, we relocated hypocenters and determined focal mechanisms of small earthquakes (M≤5) beneath the arc in order to investigate in detail the stress distribution in and around the descending oceanic plate. In the hypocenter relocation we adopted a "source region station correction method" in which station corrections vary with hypocenter locations. We have developed a new focal mechanism determination technique named "master solution method," which is analogous to the "master event method" in hypocenter determination. We applied the method to P and SH wave amplitude data to obtain 1106 focal mechanism solutions. From the new mechanism solutions and relocated hypocenters we found that there occur both low-angle thrust fault (LT) type and downdip compression (DC) type earthquakes at depths from 40 to 70 km near the aseismic front; the DC type events are underlying the LT-type events. Almost all the earthquake clusters are composed of LT-type events. The western limit of the region where LT-type events have occurred is subparallel to the trench axis, although it undulates considerably; it delineates the westernend of the active region of interplate seismicity. Furthermore, we found that normal fault (NF) type events also occur at depths from 70 km in the upper plane of the double-planed deep seismic zone, which is characterized mainly by DC-type event. These NF-type events are distributed only in a thin uppermost portion of the slab close to the plate boundary. Below these, in the lower plane, are downdip extension (DE) type events. This result indicates that the deep seismic zone in the northeastern Japan arc is not double-planed but triple-planed, even beneath the land area, which cannot be explained by any simple models.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science