Spatial changes in inclusion band spacing as an indicator of temporal changes in slow slip and tremor recurrence intervals

Naoki Nishiyama, Kohtaro Ujiie, Masayuki Kano

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Slow slip and tremor (SST) downdip of the seismogenic zones may trigger megathrust earthquakes by frequently transferring stress to seismogenic zones. Geodetic observations have suggested that the recurrence intervals of slow slip decrease toward the next megathrust earthquake. However, temporal variations in the recurrence intervals of SST during megathrust earthquake cycles remain poorly understood because of the limited duration of geodetic and seismological monitoring of slow earthquakes. The quartz-filled, crack-seal shear veins in the subduction mélange deformed near the downdip limit of the seismogenic zone in warm-slab environments record cyclic changes in the inclusion band spacing in the range from 4 ± 1 to 65 ± 18 μm. The two-phase primary fluid inclusions in quartz between inclusion bands exhibit varying vapor/liquid ratios regardless of inclusion band spacing, suggesting a common occurrence of fast quartz sealing due to a rapid decrease in quartz solubility associated with a large fluid pressure reduction. A kinetic model of quartz precipitation, considering a large fluid pressure change and inclusion band spacing, indicates that the sealing time during a single crack-seal event cyclically decreased and increased in the range from 0.16 ± 0.04 to 2.7 ± 0.8 years, with one cycle lasting at least 27 ± 2 to 93 ± 5 years. The ranges of sealing time and duration of a cycle may be comparable to the recurrence intervals of SST and megathrust earthquakes, respectively. We suggest that the spatial change in inclusion band spacing is a potential geological indicator of temporal changes in SST recurrence intervals, particularly when large fluid pressure reduction occurs by brittle fracturing. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number126
JournalEarth, Planets and Space
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec


  • Crack-seal vein
  • Recurrence interval
  • Slow slip and tremor
  • Subduction mélange


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