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Geometry of slab, intraslab stress field and its tectonic implication in the Nankai trough, Japan


The characteristics of geometry of slabs and the intraslab stress field in the Nankai subduction zone, Japan, were analyzed based on highly accurate hypocentral data and focal mechanism solutions. The results suggest that the shallow seismic zone of the Philippine Sea slab subducts with dip angels between 10 and 22 degrees beneath Shikoku and the Kii peninsula, and between 11 and 40 degrees beneath Kyushu. Two types of seismogenic stress field exist within the slab. The stress field of down-dip compression type can be seen in the slab beneath Shikoku and the Kii peninsula, where the horizontal component of regional compression stress is NNW. On the other hand the stress field of down-dip extension type within the slab is dominant in the region from western Shikoku to Kyushu, where the direction of horizontal compressive stress is near WWN. The existence of the two types of stress field is related to the differences of slab geometry and slab age of the subduciton zone. These properties imply that slab beneath Kyushu (40 Ma) probably is older than that beneath Shikoku and the Kii peninsula (11–20 Ma). The young slab of the oceanic Philippine Sea plate subducts with a shallow angle beneath the Eurasian plate in Shikoku and the Kii peninsula. The subduction has encountered strong resistance there, resulting in a down-dip compression stress field. The down-dip extension stress field may be related to the older slab of the Philippine Sea plate which subducts beneath Kyushu with a steeper dip angle.


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Correspondence to Jiren Xu.

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  • Great Earthquake
  • Focal Mechanism Solution
  • Nankai Trough
  • Shikoku Basin
  • Interplate Coupling