Structure and composition of the plate-boundary slip zone for the 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake

Frederick M. Chester, Christie Rowe, Kohtaro Ujiie, James Kirkpatrick, Christine Regalla, Francesca Remitti, J. Casey Moore, Virginia Toy, Monica Wolfson-Schwehr, Santanu Bose, Jun Kameda, James J. Mori, Emily E. Brodsky, Nobuhisa Eguchi, Sean Toczko

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209 Scopus citations


The mechanics of great subduction earthquakes are influenced by the frictional properties, structure, and composition of the plate-boundary fault. We present observations of the structure and composition of the shallow source fault of the 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake and tsunami from boreholes drilled by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 343 and 343T. Logging-while-drilling and core-sample observations show a single major plate-boundary fault accommodated the large slip of the Tohoku-Oki earthquake rupture, as well as nearly all the cumulative interplate motion at the drill site. The localization of deformation onto a limited thickness (less than 5 meters) of pelagic clay is the defining characteristic of the shallow earthquake fault, suggesting that the pelagic clay may be a regionally important control on tsunamigenic earthquakes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1208-1211
Number of pages4
Issue number6163
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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