TERRAPUB Earth, Planets and Space

Earth Planets Space, Vol. 63 (No. 7), pp. 745-748, 2011


A normal-faulting seismic sequence triggered by the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake: Wholesale stress regime changes in the upper plate

Aitaro Kato, Shin'ichi Sakai, and Kazushige Obara

Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo

(Received April 8, 2011; Revised June 7, 2011; Accepted June 8, 2011; Online published September 27, 2011)

Abstract: We here show relocated hypocenters within a seismic sequence with normal faults in the northern part of Ibaraki Prefecture, triggered after the M 9.0 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake. Depth-sections of the hypocenters from the center of the northern Ibaraki region to the north show an earthquake alignment dipping westwards at 40° to 50° at depths shallower than 10 km. On the other hand, hypocenters from the center to the south show a cross-cutting geometry consisting of conjugate westward- and eastward-dipping planes at the same depths. The dip angles of the hypocenter alignments are roughly consistent with the nodal planes of focal mechanisms of large normal earthquakes, and exhibit optimal-orientations in terms of the frictional failure criterion. Furthermore, comparison of the focal mechanisms recorded before and after the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake suggests that the stress field abruptly changed from horizontal compression to extension in the study area. The most plausible explanation of the drastic stress changes is a significant reduction in trench-normal compressive stress compared with reduction in trench-parallel stress accompanying large horizontal extensional deformation within the overlying plate.
Key words: Normal-faulting, earthquake alignments, stress changes, the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, double-difference relocation.

Corresponding author E-mail: akato@eri.u-tokyo.ac.jp

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