Spatial distribution of intermediate-depth earthquakes with horizontal or vertical nodal planes beneath northeastern Japan

Masahiro Kosuga, Tamao Sato, Akira Hasegawa, Toru Matsuzawa, Sadaomi Suzuki, Yoshinobu Motoya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


The 1993 Kushiro-oki (off-Kushiro) earthquake (AJMA = 7.8) is one of the largest intermediate-depth earthquakes that have occurred in northeastern Japan. This earthquake is a notable event that has a nearly horizontal fault plane extended from the lower seismic plane of the double-planed seismic zone toward the upper seismic plane. We have examined the spatial distribution of focal mechanism solutions of deep and intermediate-depth earthquakes beneath northeastern Japan concerning this peculiar event. Analyses of 127 new solutions along with existing solutions confirm the previous results on essential features of their spatial distribution. The predominant types of solutions are down-dip compression in the upper plane except beneath eastern Hokkaido, and down-dip extension in the lower plane. P-Axes in the upper seismic plane and T-axes in the lower plane are in the direction of plate convergence. Beneath Hokkaido, however, T-axes show significant deviation from the direction of plate convergence. The stress axes beneath the junction between the northeastern Japan arc and the Kuril arc exhibit slight deviation from those in the adjacent areas, suggesting slab distortion beneath the junction. We next investigate the spatial distribution of events with horizontal nodal planes as candidates for events with similar focal mechanisms to the Kushiro-oki earthquake. The activity of earthquakes with horizontal nodal planes is definitely high in the lower plane, especially beneath Hokkaido. Many of them have similar focal mechanisms to the Kushiro-oki earthquake, indicating that the Kushiro-oki earthquake is not exceptional but is a typical event in the region. However, the fault planes of these events are variable in space; some events are known to have vertical fault planes. There are shallow and deep depth bounds and a southwestern boundary for the events with horizontal fault planes. These facts suggest that the horizontal faulting is probably caused by some regional stress concentration owing to the unbending and the distortion of the segmented slab at the junction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-89
Number of pages27
JournalPhysics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
Issue number1-2 SPEC. ISS.
Publication statusPublished - 1996 Jan


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