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A great earthquake doublet and seismic stress transfer cycle in the central Kuril islands

Abstract

Temporal variations of the frictional resistance on subduction-zone plate boundary faults associated with the stick–slip cycle of large interplate earthquakes are thought to modulate the stress regime and earthquake activity within the subducting oceanic plate1,2,3. Here we report on two great earthquakes that occurred near the Kuril islands, which shed light on this process and demonstrate the enhanced seismic hazard accompanying triggered faulting. On 15 November 2006, an event of moment magnitude 8.3 ruptured the shallow-dipping plate boundary along which the Pacific plate descends beneath the central Kuril arc. The thrust ruptured a seismic gap that previously had uncertain seismogenic potential4,5, although the earlier occurrence of outer-rise compressional events had suggested the presence of frictional resistance1,2. Within minutes of this large underthrusting event, intraplate extensional earthquakes commenced in the outer rise region seaward of the Kuril trench, and on 13 January 2007, an event of moment magnitude 8.1 ruptured a normal fault extending through the upper portion of the Pacific plate, producing one of the largest recorded shallow extensional earthquakes. This energetic earthquake sequence demonstrates the stress transfer process within the subducting lithosphere, and the distinct rupture characteristics of these great earthquakes illuminate differences in seismogenic properties and seismic hazard of such interplate and intraplate faults.

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Figure 1: Great doublet rupture region.
Figure 2: Seismicity pattern.
Figure 3: Coseismic slip distributions.
Figure 4: Source radiation characteristics.

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Acknowledgements

This work made use of GMT and SAC software and Federation of Digital Seismic Networks (FDSN) seismic data. The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) Data Management System (DMS) was used to access the data. This work was supported by an NSF grant and a USGS Award.

Author Contributions All authors contributed equally to the analysis and preparation of this paper.

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Correspondence to Thorne Lay.

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The file contains Supplementary Notes, Supplementary Table S1 and Supplementary Figures S1-S6 with Legends. (PDF 3421 kb)

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Ammon, C., Kanamori, H. & Lay, T. A great earthquake doublet and seismic stress transfer cycle in the central Kuril islands. Nature 451, 561–565 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature06521

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