Slow Slip Transients Before the 2011 Tohoku-Oki Earthquake
*Earthquake and Volcano Research Center, Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Furo-cho, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya, Aichi 464-8601, Japan
*Earthquake Research Institute, The University of Tokyo, 1-1-1 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0032, Japan
I review a spatiotemporal evolution of slow-slip transients on the plate interface of the subducting Pacific plate that happened in and around the mainshock rupture area prior to the 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake. Based on foreshock activity before the mainshock, two sequences of slow-slip transients were identified by earthquake migrations toward the initiation point of the mainshock rupture. These two slow-slip transients were also detected by geodetic measurement. The second sequence of slow-slip transients, which involved large slip rates, may have caused significant stress loading onto the hypocenter of the mainshock and prompted the initiation of unstable dynamic rupture. In addition, decadal slip-behavior on the plate interface revealed by geodetic measurement and small repeating earthquakes show that slow-slip transients occurred in the down-dip and up-dip portions of the mainshock rupture area. These slow-slip transients imply the reduction of coupling between the subducting and overlying plates, that could be interpreted as the late stage of mega-thrust earthquake cycle, although this notion remains conjectural.
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