Complex slab structure and arc magmatism beneath the Japanese Islands

Akira Hasegawa, Junichi Nakajima, Takahiro Yanada, Naoki Uchida, Tomomi Okada, Dapeng Zhao, Toru Matsuzawa, Norihito Umino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


A dense nationwide seismic network recently constructed in Japan has resulted in the production of a large amount of high-quality data that have enabled the high-resolution imaging of deep seismic structures in the Japanese subduction zone. Seismic tomography, precise locations of earthquakes, and focal mechanism research have allowed the identification of the complex structure of subducting slabs beneath Japan, revealing that the subducting Philippine Sea slab underneath southwestern Japan has an undulatory configuration down to a depth of 60-200. km, and is continuous from Kanto to Kyushu without disruption or splitting, even within areas north of the Izu Peninsula. Analysis of the geometry of the Pacific and Philippine Sea slabs identified a broad contact zone beneath the Kanto Plain that causes anomalously deep interplate and intraslab earthquake activity. Seismic tomographic inversions using both teleseismic and local events provide a clear image of the deep aseismic portion of the Philippine Sea slab beneath the Japan Sea north of Chugoku and Kyushu, and beneath the East China Sea west of Kyushu down to a depth of ~450. km. Seismic tomography also allowed the identification of an inclined sheet-like seismic low-velocity zone in the mantle wedge beneath Tohoku. A recent seismic tomography work further revealed clear images of similar inclined low-velocity zones in the mantle wedge for almost all other areas of Japan. The presence of the inclined low-velocity zones in the mantle wedge across the entirety of Japan suggests that it is a common feature to all subduction zones. These low-velocity zones may correspond to the upwelling flow portion of subduction-induced convection systems. These upwelling flows reach the Moho directly beneath active volcanic areas, suggesting a link between volcanism and upwelling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-290
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Asian Earth Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Dec 5


  • Arc magmatism
  • Earthquake generation
  • Japanese Islands
  • Mantle upwelling flow
  • Slab structure
  • Subduction zone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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