TERRAPUB Earth, Planets and Space

Earth Planets Space, Vol. 64 (No. 12), pp. 1125-1135, 2012

Seismicity near the hypocenter of the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku earthquake deduced by using ocean bottom seismographic data

Kensuke Suzuki1, Ryota Hino1, Yoshihiro Ito1, Yojiro Yamamoto2, Syuichi Suzuki1, Hiromi Fujimoto1, Masanao Shinohara3, Masao Abe4, Yoshiharu Kawaharada4, Yohei Hasegawa4, and Yoshiyuki Kaneda2

1Research Center for Prediction of Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions, Graduate School of Science, Tohoku University, 6-6 Aza-Aoba, Aramaki, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-8578, Japan
2Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, 3175-25 Showa-machi, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 236-0001, Japan
3Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Yayoi 1-1-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0032, Japan
4Japan Meteorological Agency, 1-3-4, Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8122, Japan

(Received December 27, 2011; Revised April 26, 2012; Accepted April 27, 2012; Online published January 28, 2013)

Abstract: We relocated hypocenters of the foreshock, mainshock, and aftershocks of the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku earthquake (M 9.0) in the middle part of the Japan Trench where the earthquake rupture initiated. Ocean Bottom Seismographs (OBSs), deployed in the area, recorded the earthquakes and these data provide improved images of the hypocenter distribution. The mainshock hypocenter was relocated slightly westward from that reported by Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), placing it near the intersection between the plate boundary and the Moho of the overriding plate. The foreshock seismicity mainly occurred on the trenchward side of the mainshock hypocenter, where the Pacific slab contacts the island arc crust. The foreshocks were initially activated at the up-dip limit of the seismogenic zone ∼30 km trenchward of the largest foreshock (M 7.3, two days before the mainshock). After the M-7.3 earthquake, intense interplate seismicity, accompanied by epicenters migrating toward the mainshock hypocenter, was observed. The focal depth distribution changed significantly in response to the M-9 mainshock. Earthquakes along the plate boundary were almost non-existent in the area of huge coseismic slip, whereas earthquakes off the boundary increased in numbers in both the upper and the lower plates.
Key words: Tohoku-oki earthquake, Ocean Bottom Seismograph, seismicity, Miyagi-oki.

Corresponding author E-mail: suzuki@aob.gp.tohoku.ac.jp

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