TERRAPUB Earth, Planets and Space

Earth Planets Space, Vol. 58 (No. 12), pp. 1533-1541, 2006

Investigation of the earthquake sequence off Miyagi prefecture with historical seismograms

Hiroo Kanamori1, Masatoshi Miyazawa2, and Jim Mori2

1Seismological Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA
2Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan

(Received January 6, 2006; Revised March 30, 2006; Accepted April 23, 2006; Online published February 2, 2007)

Abstract: We investigated the old seismograms of several earthquakes which occurred offshore of Miyagi prefecture in 1933 (June 18, 21:37 UT), 1936 (Nov. 2, 20:45 UT), 1937 (July 26, 19:56 UT), 1978 (June 12, 08:14 UT), and 2005 (Aug. 16, 02:46 UT). A characteristic earthquake model for the sequence of the 1936, 1978, and several other earlier events is the basis of the recent forecast by the Earthquake Research Committee (2003) that "The probability of the occurrence of another similar earthquake in the next 30 years is 99%". To assess the validity of the characteristic earthquake model, we compared the waveforms, size and other characteristics of these earthquakes recorded at Pasadena, DeBilt, Abuyama, Aso, Weston, Strasbourg, and Christchurch. We conclude that (1) The 1978 event is 3 to 4.5 times larger (in seismic moment) than the 2005 event; (2) The 1936 and the 2005 events are about the same size and are fairly close in location; (3) The 1937 event is smaller than the 1936 event, and is significantly deeper, possibly as deep as 90 km. In contrast, the 1933 event is significantly shallower than the 1936 event. The differences between these events are too large to justify the use of a simple characteristic earthquake model for the probabilistic forecast. The seismic slip rate in this area and along the adjacent subduction zone to the south is about 1/4 of the plate convergence rate, which has an important implication for the long-term seismic hazard in this area.
Key words: Miyagi-Oki earthquakes, characteristic earthquake, probabilistic forecast, asperity.

Corresponding author E-mail: hiroo@gps.caltech.edu

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