Stress state along the western Nankai Trough subduction zone inferred from b-values, long-term slow-slip events, and low-frequency earthquakes
Earth, Planets and Space
The b-value of the Gutenberg-Richter law represents the ratio of earthquake magnitude to frequency of occurrence and is inversely proportional to differential stress. Repeating long-term slow-slip events (SSEs) and low-frequency earthquakes (LFEs) occur at subducting plate interfaces and have stress-dependent characteristics near the interface. In this study, a comprehensive regional b-value distribution is produced for the western Nankai Trough region, which highlights the relationship between
... b-values, SSEs, and LFEs. b-values vary along the strike direction of the subducting plate and are significantly lower (b ∼ 0.6) in central Shikoku district than elsewhere, where LFEs frequently occur. However, b-values in the source regions of other LFEs are moderate to high. These findings imply that b-values in the focal region are controlled by more than the LFE source process; indeed, if this source process were solely responsible, then high b-values would be expected. Meanwhile, the V P /V S and Q P around the plate interface in central Shikoku estimated from seismic velocity and attenuation structure are smaller and larger than those in other regions with LFEs, respectively. SSEs with the migration toward central Shikoku also occurred during the analysis period, suggesting significant accumulation of shear stresses in the focal region, which reduced the b-values. These findings suggest that the spatial distributions of b-values are influenced by complicated stress and shear strength perturbations caused by SSEs and LFEs. On the other hand, the b-values in the region that underwent the greatest slip during the 1946 Nankai earthquake are not necessarily low, although the area covered by the b-value distribution is small owing to the lack of events on the updip side. Whereas the asperity areas of huge earthquakes are characterized by low b-values, the b-value distribution in the Nankai megathrust area is more complicated. It is considered that slow earthquakes, including SSEs and LFEs, are related to megathrust earthquakes via stress transfer from slow earthquakes to adjacent megathrust source regions. A unified analysis of b-values in the source regions of slow and megathrust earthquakes may be required to make precise estimates of the seismic hazard produced by a megathrust event.