Spatiotemporal distribution of low-frequency earthquakes in Southwest Japan: Evidence for fluid migration and magmatic activity

Zhiteng Yu, Dapeng Zhao, Xiongwei Niu, Jiabiao Li

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Low-frequency earthquakes (LFEs) in the lower crust and uppermost mantle are widely observed in Southwest Japan, and they occur not only along the subducting Philippine Sea (PHS) slab interface but also beneath active arc volcanoes. The volcanic LFEs are still not well understood because of their limited quantities and less reliable hypocenter locations. In this work, seismic tomography is used to determine detailed three-dimensional (3-D) P- and S-wave velocity (Vp and Vs) models of the crust and upper mantle beneath Southwest Japan, and then the obtained 3-D Vp and Vs models are used to relocate the volcanic LFEs precisely. The results show that the volcanic LFEs can be classified into two types: pipe-like and swarm-like LFEs, and both of them are located in or around zones of low-velocity and high-Poisson's ratio anomalies in the crust and uppermost mantle beneath the active volcanoes. The pipe-like LFEs may be related to the fluid migration from the lower crust or the uppermost mantle, whereas the swarm-like LFEs may be related to local magmatic activities or small magma chambers. The number of LFEs sometimes increases sharply before or after a nearby large crustal earthquake which may cause cracks and fluid migration. The spatiotemporal distribution of the LFEs may indicate the track of migrating fluids. As compared with the tectonic LFEs along the PHS slab interface, the volcanic LFEs are more sensitive to fluid migration and local magmatic activities. High pore pressures play an important role in triggering both types of LFEs in Southwest Japan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-172
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Asian Earth Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan


  • Active volcanoes
  • Fluid migration
  • Low-frequency earthquakes
  • Seismic tomography
  • Southwest Japan
  • Subduction dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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