Three-dimensional P- and S-wave velocity structures beneath Japan

Masaki Nakamura, Yasuhiro Yoshida, Dapeng Zhao, Hiroyuki Takayama, Koichiro Obana, Hiroshi Katao, Junzo Kasahara, Toshihiko Kanazawa, Shuichi Kodaira, Toshinori Sato, Hajime Shiobara, Masanao Shinohara, Hideki Shimamura, Narumi Takahashi, Ayako Nakanishi, Ryota Hino, Yoshio Murai, Kimihiro Mochizuki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


We determined the three-dimensional Vp and Vs structures beneath Japan by applying seismic tomography to a large number of arrival times recorded at temporary stations in the Japan Sea and the Pacific Ocean, as well as those at permanent stations on the Japan Islands. As a result, we obtained more precise seismic images than previous studies. In the crust and the uppermost mantle, southwestern Honshu exhibited weaker heterogeneity than the other areas in Japan, corresponding to the distribution of active volcanoes. Stripe-like heterogeneities exist in the subducting Pacific slab. Relatively low-velocity zones correspond to low-seismicity areas in the Pacific slab, suggesting that the slab is possibly torn or thin around the areas. The fact that nonvolcanic deep tremors associated with the subducting Philippine Sea slab beneath Shikoku, Kii, and Tokai do not occur in zones of high Vp, high Vs, and low Vp/Vs ratio may reflect the existence of fluids generated by the dehydration processes of the slab. Prominent and wide low Vp and Vs zones exist beneath central Honshu at the depth range of 30-60 km, where the volcanic front related to the subducting Pacific plate is located and seismicity around the Philippine Sea plate is very low. This condition may exist because magma genesis processes related to the subducting Pacific plate activate the same processes around the Philippine Sea plate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-70
Number of pages22
JournalPhysics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2008 May


  • Dehydration process
  • Pacific slab
  • Philippine Sea slab
  • Seismic activity
  • Seismic wave travel time tomography
  • Volcano


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