Recurring and triggered slow-slip events near the trench at the Nankai Trough subduction megathrust

Science. 2017 Jun 16;356(6343):1157-1160. doi: 10.1126/science.aan3120.


The discovery of slow earthquakes has revolutionized the field of earthquake seismology. Defining the locations of these events and the conditions that favor their occurrence provides important insights into the slip behavior of tectonic faults. We report on a family of recurring slow-slip events (SSEs) on the plate interface immediately seaward of repeated historical moment magnitude (Mw) 8 earthquake rupture areas offshore of Japan. The SSEs continue for days to several weeks, include both spontaneous and triggered slip, recur every 8 to 15 months, and are accompanied by swarms of low-frequency tremors. We can explain the SSEs with 1 to 4 centimeters of slip along the megathrust, centered 25 to 35 kilometers (km) from the trench (4 to 10 km depth). The SSEs accommodate 30 to 55% of the plate motion, indicating frequent release of accumulated strain near the trench.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Earthquakes
  • Geological Phenomena*
  • Japan