Moment-dependent rupture properties of deep-focus earthquakes in the Izu-Bonin subduction zone

H. L. Kehoe, E. D. Kiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The physical mechanisms controlling deep-focus earthquakes, or those observed at depths greater than 300 km, remain enigmatic. The leading processes by which deep-focus earthquakes are thought to occur include transformational faulting, thermal runaway and dehydration embrittlement, but distinguishing observations in support of one or more prevailing mechanisms are needed. In this study, we use a modified back-projection method, data recorded by the Hi-net array in Japan and a 3-D velocity model to produce source images of 19 deep-focus earthquakes within the Izu-Bonin subduction zone. We find that the rupture properties and fault plane orientations of imaged events separate according to reported moment magnitude, indicating the distinct operation of two moment-dependent causal mechanisms of deep-focus earthquakes in this region. We discuss these results in the context of previous observational, laboratory and numerical studies and emphasize the importance of continued research to validate the dual-mechanism hypothesis both in and outside Izu-Bonin. Such work may not only improve our understanding of the nucleation and propagation of deep-focus earthquakes, but also help clarify slab structure and subduction zone dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)663-678
Number of pages16
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2024


  • Earthquake dynamics
  • Earthquake source observations
  • Image processing
  • Seismicity and tectonics
  • Subduction zone processes
  • Time-series analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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