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Science. 2008 Aug 29;321(5893):1194-7. doi: 10.1126/science.1160250.

Weak interplate coupling by seamounts and repeating M approximately 7 earthquakes.

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Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo, 1-1-1, Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0032, Japan.


Subducting seamounts are thought to increase the normal stress between subducting and overriding plates. However, recent seismic surveys and laboratory experiments suggest that interplate coupling is weak. A seismic survey in the Japan Trench shows that a large seamount is being subducted near a region of repeating earthquakes of magnitude M approximately 7. Both observed seismicity and the pattern of rupture propagation during the 1982 M 7.0 event imply that interplate coupling was weak over the seamount. A large rupture area with small slip occurred in front of the seamount. Its northern bound could be determined by a trace of multiple subducted seamounts. Whereas a subducted seamount itself may not define the rupture area, its width may be influenced by that of the seamount.

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