Repeated triggered ruptures on a distributed secondary fault system: an example from the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake, southwest Japan

Daisuke Ishimura, Hiroyuki Tsutsumi, Shinji Toda, Yo Fukushima, Yasuhiro Kumahara, Naoya Takahashi, Toshihiko Ichihara, Keita Takada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The Mw7.0 2016 Kumamoto earthquake occurred on the previously mapped Futagawa–Hinagu fault causing significant strong ground motions. A ~ 30-km-long dextral surface rupture appeared on the major fault zone and dextral slip was up to 2–3 m. However, the surface ruptures were also broadly and remotely distributed approximately 10 km away from the primary rupture zone. These numerous distributed secondary surface slips with vertical displacement of less than a few tens of centimeters were detected by the interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) technology in previous studies. Such displacements occurred not only on previously mapped faults but also on unknown traces. Here, we addressed the following fundamental issues: whether the broadly distributed faults were involved in the past major earthquakes in the neighborhood, and how the fault topography of such secondary faults develops, seismically or aseismically. To find clues for understanding these issues, we show the results of field measurements of surface slips and paleoseismic trenching on distributed secondary faults called the Miyaji faults inside the Aso caldera, 10 km away from the eastern end of the primary rupture zone. Field observations revealed small but well-defined dextral slip surface ruptures that were consistent with vertical and dextral offsets derived from InSAR. On the trench walls, the penultimate event with vertical displacements almost similar to the 2016 event was identified. The timing of the penultimate event was around 2 ka, which was consistent with that of the primary fault and archeological information of the caldera. Considering the paleo-slip event and fault models of the Miyaji faults, they were presumed not to be source faults, and slip on these faults have been triggered by large earthquakes along major adjacent active faults. The results provide important insights into the seismic hazard assessment of low-slip-rate active faults and fault topography development due to triggered displacement along secondary faults.[Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Article number39
Journalearth, planets and space
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec


  • 2016 Kumamoto earthquake
  • Aso caldera
  • InSAR
  • Low-slip-rate active fault
  • Secondary fault
  • Surface rupture
  • Tephra
  • Trench excavation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Space and Planetary Science


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