Marine Geophysical Research

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 269–283 | Cite as

Variations in the thermal conductivities of surface sediments in the Nankai subduction zone off Tokai, central Japan

  • Shusaku GotoEmail author
  • Tomonobu Mizoguchi
  • Ryo Kimura
  • Masataka Kinoshita
  • Makoto Yamano
  • Hideki Hamamoto
Original Research Paper


We investigated the relationship between variations in the thermal conductivity of surface sediments and the topography in the Nankai subduction zone off Tokai, central Japan, the easternmost part of the Nankai subduction zone, which has an accretionary prism with varied topography. We analyzed sediment thermal conductivity data obtained from the trough floor and accretionary prism. Variations in the thermal conductivity of sediments were related to the topographic features formed by accretionary prism development. Thermal conductivities of 1.1 W/m K were measured on the trough floor where thick terrigenous turbidites have been deposited. The thermal conductivity of Nankai Trough floor sediments decreases from northeast to southwest along the trough, probably because of the decreased grain size and/or changes in sediment mineral composition. High thermal conductivities (≥1.0 W/m K) were measured in fault scarps on the accretionary prism. A landward increase in these values on the prism may be explained by decreased porosity of the sediments attributable to tectonic deformation during accretionary prism development. At the base of the fault scarp of the frontal thrust, low thermal conductivities (<0.9 W/m K) were measured, likely reflecting the high porosity of the talus deposits. Low thermal conductivity (0.9 W/m K) was also measured in slope basins on the accretionary prism, likely also related to the high porosity of the sediments. Our results demonstrate that, for accurate heat flow measurement in an area of varied topography, the geothermal gradient and the thermal conductivity of the sediments must be measured within regions with similar topographic features.


Thermal conductivity Topographic feature Nankai subduction zone Nankai Trough Accretionary prism Turbidite Heat-pulse method 



We wish to acknowledge the expertise and efforts of the captains and crew of R/V Tansei-maru of the Ocean Research Institute of The University of Tokyo. We thank Osamu Tadai, Ryo Enami, Yudi Anantasena, and Issa Kagaya for processing of sediment core samples and heat flow measurements. We are grateful to Dr. Sean Gulick, two anonymous reviewers, and Dr. Amy E. Draut for reviews and comments that improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shusaku Goto
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tomonobu Mizoguchi
    • 2
  • Ryo Kimura
    • 3
  • Masataka Kinoshita
    • 4
    • 7
  • Makoto Yamano
    • 5
  • Hideki Hamamoto
    • 6
  1. 1.Institute for Geo-Resources and EnvironmentNational Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and TechnologyTsukubaJapan
  2. 2.System Intech Co., Ltd.TokyoJapan
  3. 3.Global Ocean Development Inc.YokohamaJapan
  4. 4.Institute for Research on Earth EvolutionJapan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and TechnologyKanagawaJapan
  5. 5.Earthquake Research InstituteThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  6. 6.Center for Environmental Science in SaitamaSaitamaJapan
  7. 7.Kochi Institute for Core Sample ResearchJapan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and TechnologyKochiJapan

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