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Forecast model for great earthquakes at the Nankai Trough subduction zone


An earthquake instability model is formulated for recurring great earthquakes at the Nankai Trough subduction zone in southwest Japan. The model is quasistatic, two-dimensional, and has a displacement and velocity dependent constitutive law applied at the fault plane. A constant rate of fault slip at depth represents forcing due to relative motion of the Philippine Sea and Eurasian plates. The model simulates fault slip and stress for all parts of repeated earthquake cycles, including post-, inter-, pre- and coseismic stages. Calculated ground uplift is in agreement with most of the main features of elevation changes observed before and after the M=8.1 1946 Nankaido earthquake. In model simulations, accelerating fault slip has two time-scales. The first time-scale is several years long and is interpreted as an intermediate-term precursor. The second time-scale is a few days long and is interpreted as a short-term precursor. Accelerating fault slip on both time-scales causes anomalous elevation changes of the ground surface over the fault plane of 100 mm or less within 50 km of the fault trace.

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Stuart, W.D. Forecast model for great earthquakes at the Nankai Trough subduction zone. PAGEOPH 126, 619–641 (1988).

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Key words

  • Earthquake prediction
  • earthquake instability
  • subduction
  • Nankai Trough