Deep structure of the northeastern Japan arc and its implications for crustal deformation and shallow seismic activity

Akira Hasegawa, Junichi Nakajima, Norihito Umino, Satoshi Miura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Citations (Scopus)


Seismic tomography studies in the northeastern Japan arc have revealed the existence of an inclined sheet-like seismic low-velocity and high-attenuation zone in the mantle wedge at depths shallower than about 150 km. This sheet-like low-velocity, high-attenuation zone is oriented sub-parallel to the subducted slab, and is considered to correspond to the upwelling flow portion of the subduction-induced convection. The low-velocity, high-attenuation zone reaches the Moho immediately beneath the volcanic front (or the Ou Backbone Range) running through the middle of the arc nearly parallel to the trench axis, which suggests that the volcanic front is formed by this hot upwelling flow. Aqueous fluids supplied by the subducted slab are probably transported upward through this upwelling flow to reach shallow levels beneath the Backbone Range where they are expelled from solidified magma and migrate further upward. The existence of aqueous fluids may weaken the surrounding crustal rocks, resulting in local contractive deformation and uplift along the Backbone Range under the compressional stress field of the volcanic arc. A strain-rate distribution map generated from GPS data reveals a notable concentration of east-west contraction along the Backbone Range, consistent with this interpretation. Shallow inland earthquakes are also concentrated in the upper crust of this locally large contraction deformation zone. Based on these observations, a simple model is proposed to explain the deformation pattern of the crust and the characteristic shallow seismic activity beneath the northeastern Japan arc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-75
Number of pages17
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Jul 5


  • Aqueous fluids
  • Arc magmatism
  • Crustal deformation
  • Northeastern Japan arc
  • Shallow seismicity
  • Subduction zone


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