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A tectonic interpretation of NW-SE strike-slip faulting during the 2004 off the Kii peninsula earthquakes, Japan: Probable tear of the Philippine Sea plate

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Abstract

The 2004 off the Kii peninsula earthquakes (Mw 7.5 for the main shock) occurred within the subducting Philippine Sea (PHS) plate near its boundary, the Nankai trough, southwest Japan. The rupture mode of the foreshock-main shock-aftershock sequence was complicated, a combination of ENE-WSW striking (almost trough parallel) reverse faulting beneath the trough and NW-SE trending (almost trough normal) strike-slip faulting mostly on the landward side of the former. In this paper, we discuss the tectonic meaning of this NW-SE running strike-slip fault. We examined hypocenter distribution and focal mechanisms of slab earthquakes from October 1997 through September 2004 and confirmed a NW-SE striking tear of the PHS slab beneath the middle part of the Kii Peninsula pointed out by Miyoshi and Ishibashi (2004). According to the Earthquake Research Committee (2004) there is a NW-SE trending structural discontinuity in the PHS crust to the southeast of the main shock epicenter. Putting all features together, we interpret that there is a NW-SE striking fracture within the PHS plate continuously from the Nankai trough region to the slab beneath the Kii Peninsula, and that a partial rupture of this fracture occurred during the off the Kii peninsula earthquakes together with trough-parallel reverse faulting. It should be noted that two disastrous M 7-class slab earthquakes seem to have occurred along this tear beneath the peninsula in 1899 and 1952.

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Correspondence to Takayuki Miyoshi.

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Miyoshi, T., Ishibashi, K. A tectonic interpretation of NW-SE strike-slip faulting during the 2004 off the Kii peninsula earthquakes, Japan: Probable tear of the Philippine Sea plate. Earth Planet Sp 57, 1115–1120 (2005) doi:10.1186/BF03351891

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Key words

  • 2004 off the Kii peninsula earthquakes
  • intra-oceanic-plate earthquake
  • Philippine Sea plate
  • slab tear
  • hypocentral distribution
  • focal mechanism