A slab fragment wedged under Tokyo and its tectonic and seismic implications

Shinji Toda, Ross S. Stein, Stephen H. Kirby, Serkan B. Bozkurt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


The Philippine Sea and Pacific plate slabs both subduct beneath Tokyo, and so their configuration and seismic potential have been subject to intensive study. Previous work suggests that the Philippine Sea slab extends up to 100 km northwest of Tokyo and subducts to a depth of 90 km beneath the Kanto basin, where it is folded against the underlying Pacific slab. Here we evaluate seismic data in three dimensions and delineate a distinct 25-km-thick and 100-km-wide body beneath the Kanto basin that has hitherto been considered to be part of the Philippine Sea slab. We find that several of its characteristics such as its high seismic velocity and the presence of a double seismic zone point instead to an affinity with the Pacific slab, implying that the Philippine Sea slab penetrates to depths of only 35-40 km beneath the Kanto basin. We propose that the body is a fragment of Pacific lithosphere that formed by the collision of two intersecting seamount chains with the Japan Trench 2-3 million years ago. We suggest that such slab fragments may not be uncommon, especially where seamount subduction deforms trenches and near triple junctions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)771-776
Number of pages6
JournalNature Geoscience
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Nov


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