Deep slow-slip events promote seismicity in northeastern Japan megathrust

Mostafa Khoshmanesh, Manoochehr Shirzaei, Naoki Uchida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The sliding movement between oceanic and crustal plates in subduction zones is accommodated through both earthquakes and quasi-static or transient aseismic slip. On northeastern Japan megathrust, aseismic transients, known as slow-slip events, are suggested to precede and trigger major earthquakes in their immediate surroundings. However, the geodetic evidence for these episodic slow-slip events, as well as their link to the seismicity on neighboring locked segments of the megathrust, is missing. Here, we combine the on-shore geodetic data set with seismic observations during the interseismic period of 1996–2003 and demonstrate that episodic slow-slip events are prevalent across the down-dip portion (∼30–70 km depth) of the megathrust and the associated stress changes modulate the seismicity rate on the neighboring seismogenic zone. Consequently, small- to moderate-size earthquakes are periodically triggered, whose interaction through a domino effect might occasionally lead to major earthquakes. This observation has a profound impact on the estimation of seismic hazard in the region, introducing a new triggering mechanism that acts across the megathrust to the extent that has not been acknowledged before.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116261
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatePublished - Jun 15 2020


  • GPS
  • Japan subduction zone
  • earthquake triggering
  • kinematic modeling
  • repeating earthquakes
  • slow-slip events

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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