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  • Letter
  • Open Access

Very low frequency earthquakes excited by the 2004 off the Kii peninsula earthquakes: A dynamic deformation process in the large accretionary prism

Earth, Planets and Space201457:BF03352570

  • Received: 28 December 2004
  • Accepted: 29 March 2005
  • Published:


Anomalous seismic events were observed after the occurrence of the foreshock (Mw=7.2) and the main shock (Mw=7.5) of the 2004 off the Kii peninsula earthquakes. These anomalous events are characterized by very low-frequency energy of around 10 seconds with almost no higher-frequency energy and are considered the same as the very low-frequency (VLF) earthquakes discovered by Ishihara (2003) in some places along the Nankai trough, southwest Japan. The VLF seismic activity is mainly coincident with the aftershock area of the 2004 off the Kii peninsula earthquakes; however a minor activity was also excited in the southern Kii channel area. The VLF seismograms sometimes include higher-frequency wave trains with amplitudes much smaller than that of regular aftershocks. This indicates that VLF earthquakes have different source properties from the regular earthquakes. The centroid moment tensor analysis for one of the larger events suggests that the source depth is very shallow and the focal mechanism is the reverse faulting. These features suggest that the event occurs on the well-developed reverse fault system in the large accretionary prism near the Nankai trough. The swarm activity of VLF earthquakes might be considered as a chain-like occurrence of slips on the reverse fault system and thus the signature of a dynamic deformation process in the accretionary prism.

Key words

  • Low-frequency earthquake
  • subduction zone
  • Nankai trough
  • accretionary prism
  • broadband seismometer