Seismic attenuation tomography of the Southwest Japan arc: New insight into subduction dynamics

Xin Liu, Dapeng Zhao

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56 Citations (Scopus)


We determined the first high-resolution P- and S-wave attenuation (Qp and Qs) tomography of the crust and upper mantle under the entire Nankai subduction zone from the Nankai Trough to the Japan Sea using a large number of high-quality t* data measured from P- and S-wave spectra of local earthquakes. The suboceanic earthquakes used in this study were relocated precisely using sP depth phases and ocean-bottom-seismometer data. The overall pattern of the obtained Q models is similar to that of velocity models of the study region. Our present results show that high-Q (i.e. weak attenuation) anomalies in the upper crust generally correspond to plutonic rocks widely exposed in the Nankai arc. Some of the low-Q (i.e. strong attenuation) anomalies in the upper crust along the Pacific coast are associated with the Cretaceous- Cenozoic accretionary wedge. Obvious low-Q anomalies exist in the crust under the active arc volcanoes. Most of the large inland crustal earthquakes are located in or around the low- Q zones in the crust. The subducting Philippine Sea slab is imaged clearly as a landward dipping high-Q zone. Prominent low-Q anomalies are revealed in the mantle wedge under the volcanic front and backarc area, which reflect the source zone of arc magmatism caused by slab dehydration and corner flow in the mantle wedge. Significant low-Q anomalies exist in the forearc mantle wedge, which reflects a highly hydrated and serpentinized forearc mantle wedge due to abundant fluids released from dehydration of the young and warm Philippine Sea slab.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-156
Number of pages22
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 22


  • Body waves
  • Dynamics: seismotectonics
  • Seismic attenuation
  • Seismic tomography
  • Subduction zone processes


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