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Effect of elastic inhomogeneity on the surface displacements in the northeastern Japan: Based on three-dimensional numerical modeling

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In geodetic inversions such as estimation of coseismic slip and/or afterslip distribution on faults, the displacements on the surface calculated under an assumption of homogeneous elastic half space have been mostly used as the Green’s functions (GF’s). However, this seems not adequate for better estimations of such slip distribution, because the subsurface structures are more or less inhomogeneous, especially those in and around Japan where the structure must be much complicated. In this study, to examine how much the inhomogeneous subsurface structure affects on the surface displacements, we conduct some 3-D finite element calculations with a grid for the region of 1400 km (EW) × 1200 km (NS) × 200 km (depth) including the Tohoku and Hokkaido, northeastern Japan. Assuming homogeneous and inhomogeneous elastic models with various values for the Young’s modulus and Poisson’s ratio, we calculated the surface displacements due to a dip-slip type dislocation of 1 m on many cell-like subfaults assumed on the interface between the Pacific and land side plates. Comparing the results, we find a large discrepancy in the surface displacements between the homogeneous and inhomogeneous elastic models and less dependency of the surface displacements on the Poisson’s ratio. The discrepancy is found to be more than 20% and can be as large as ~40% in some cases. Such a large discrepancy indicates that the surface displacements calculated for inhomogeneous elastic medium with realistic subsurface structure, unlike as in usual cases, should be used as the GF’s for better geodetic inversions.


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Correspondence to Kachishige Sato.

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Sato, K., Minagawa, N., Hyodo, M. et al. Effect of elastic inhomogeneity on the surface displacements in the northeastern Japan: Based on three-dimensional numerical modeling. Earth Planet Sp 59, 1083–1093 (2007) doi:10.1186/BF03352051

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Key words

  • Geodetic inversion
  • Green’s function
  • surface displacement
  • inhomogeneous subsurface structure
  • numerical modeling
  • finite element method