Stress transferred by the 1995 Mw = 6.9 Kobe, Japan, shock: Effect on aftershocks and future earthquake probabilities

Shinji Toda, Ross S. Stein, Paul A. Reasenberg, James H. Dieterich, Akio Yoshida

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528 Citations (Scopus)


The Kobe earthquake struck at the edge of the densely populated Osaka-Kyoto corridor in southwest Japan. We investigate how the earthquake transferred stress to nearby faults, altering their proximity to failure and thus changing earthquake probabilities. We find that relative to the pre-Kobe seismicity, Kobe aftershocks were concentrated in regions of calculated Coulomb stress increase and less common in regions of stress decrease. We quantify this relationship by forming the spatial correlation between the seismicity rate change and the Coulomb stress change. The correlation is significant for stress changes greater than 0.2-1.0 bars (0.02-0.1 MPa), and the nonlinear dependence of seismicity rate change on stress change is compatible with a state- and rate-dependent formulation for earthquake occurrence. We extend this analysis to future mainshocks by resolving the stress changes on major faults within 100 km of Kobe and calculating the change in probability caused by these stress changes. Transient effects of the stress changes are incorporated by the state-dependent constitutive relation, which amplifies the permanent stress changes during the aftershock period. Earthquake probability framed in this manner is highly time-dependent, much more so than is assumed in current practice. Because the probabilities depend on several poorly known parameters of the major faults, we estimate uncertainties of the probabilities by Monte Carlo simulation. This enables us to include uncertainties on the elapsed time since the last earthquake, the repeat time and its variability, and the period of aftershock decay. We estimate that a calculated 3-bar (0.3-MPa) stress increase on the eastern section of the Arima-Takatsuki Tectonic Line (ATTL) near Kyoto causes fivefold increase in the 30-year probability of a subsequent large earthquake near Kyoto; a 2-bar (0.2-MPa) stress decrease on the western section of the ATTL results in a reduction in probability by a factor of 140 to 2000. The probability of a Mw = 6.9 earthquake within 50 km of Osaka during 1997-2007 is estimated to have risen from 5-6% before the Kobe earthquake to 7-11% afterward; during 1997-2027, it is estimated to have risen from 14-16% before Kobe to 16-22%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24543-24565
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1998 Oct 10
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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