Tomography of the source zone of the great 2011 Tohoku earthquake

Yuanyuan Hua, Dapeng Zhao, Genti Toyokuni, Yixian Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


The mechanism and rupture process of the giant 2011 Tohoku-oki earthquake (Mw 9.0) are still poorly understood due to lack of permanent near-field observations. Using seismic arrival times recorded by dense seismograph networks on land and at ocean floor, we determine a detailed seismic tomography model of the megathrust zone beneath the Tohoku forearc. Our results show that the coseismic slip of the 2011 Tohoku-oki earthquake initiated at a boundary between a down-dip high-velocity anomaly and an up-dip low-velocity anomaly. The slow anomaly at shallow depths near the Japan trench may reflect low-rigidity materials that are close to the free surface, resulting in large slip and weak high-frequency radiation. Our new tomographic model can account for not only large slip near the trench but also weak high-frequency radiation from the shallow rupture areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1163
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec 1


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