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Tidal triggering of earthquakes in Japan related to the regional tectonic stress


We observe a correlation between the Earth tide and earthquake occurrence that is closely related to the regional tectonic stress. We investigate the direction of the tidal compressional stress using shallow earthquakes occurring in 100 subregions of Japan for nearly five years. The azimuthal distribution of the compressional stress obtained for the observed earthquake data is compared with that synthesized for random earthquake occurrence. Statistical analysis confirms a significant difference between the observed and random catalogs for 13 subregions, which include the areas where unusual seismic activities took place recently, and where the possibility of future large earthquakes has been argued. For these subregions, earthquakes preferentially occur when the tidal compressional stress is near the dominant direction of P-axes of focal mechanisms obtained in the corresponding subregions. This suggests that the tidal stress may encourage earthquake occurrence when it acts in the direction to increase the regional tectonic stress.


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Correspondence to Sachiko Tanaka.

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Tanaka, S., Ohtake, M. & Sato, H. Tidal triggering of earthquakes in Japan related to the regional tectonic stress. Earth Planet Sp 56, 511–515 (2004).

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Key words

  • Tidal triggering of earthquakes
  • tectonic stress
  • statistical test