Quasi-Dynamic 3D Modeling of the Generation and Afterslip of a Tohoku-oki Earthquake Considering Thermal Pressurization and Frictional Properties of the Shallow Plate Boundary

  • Bunichiro ShibazakiEmail author
  • Hiroyuki Noda
  • Matt J. Ikari


The generation of the 2011 Tohoku-oki earthquake has been modeled by many authors by considering a dynamic weakening mechanism such as thermal pressurization (TP). Because the effects of TP on afterslip have not been investigated, this study develops a 3D quasi-dynamic model of the earthquake cycle to investigate afterslip of the Tohoku-oki earthquake, considering TP and the geometry of the plate boundary. We employ several velocity-weakening (VW) patches for Mw 7 class events, and two large shallow VW patches. The frictional properties are set as velocity-strengthening (VS) outside the VW patches. The results show that, during megathrust earthquakes, fast slip propagates to the surrounding VS regions near the VW patches owing to weakening by TP. Following Mw 9 events, large afterslips occur in regions below the northern shallow rupture area in the off-Fukushima region close to the Japan Trench, which is consistent with observations. In the VS region near the VW patches, during the early afterslip period, frictional behavior exhibits less VS with increasing slip velocity due to pore pressure reduction. We also consider the frictional properties of the shallow plate boundary fault off Tohoku, which exhibits a transition from VW to VS from low to high slip velocities. The results show the occurrence of slow slip events (SSEs) at intervals of a few decades at the shallow plate boundary. During megathrust events, the VW property at low slip velocity promotes slip along the shallow SSE region more than the case with VS property throughout the entire velocity range.


2011 Tohoku-oki earthquake 3D earthquake cycle model afterslip rate- and state-dependent friction law thermal pressurization slow slip events 



We are grateful to the guest editor, Sylvain Barbot, and the anonymous reviewers for valuable comments that helped to improve the manuscript. This study was supported by MEXT KAKENHI (26109007, 24340107). This study was also supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan, under its Earthquake and Volcano Hazards Observation and Research Program. For this study, we used the computer systems of the Earthquake Information Center of the Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Institute of Seismology and Earthquake Engineering, Building Research InstituteTsukubaJapan
  2. 2.Disaster Prevention Research InstituteKyoto UniversityUjiJapan
  3. 3.Marum, Center for Marine Environmental Science and Faculty of GeosciencesUniversity of BremenBremenGermany

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