Studying Near-Trench Characteristics of the 2011 Tohoku-Oki Megathrust Rupture Using Differential Multi-Beam Bathymetry before and after the Earthquake
Friday, 19 December 2014
Large coseismic motion (up to ~ 31 m) of seafloor GPS sites during the 2011 M 9 Tohoku earthquake suggests large rupture at shallow depths of the megathrust. However, compilation of all published rupture models, constrained by the near-field seafloor geodetic observation and also various other datasets, shows large uncertainties in the slip of the most near-trench (within ~ 50 km from the trench) part of the megathrust. Repeated multi-beam bathymetry surveys that cover the trench axis, carried out by Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, for the first time recorded coseismic deformation in a megathrust earthquake at the trench. In previous studies of the differential bathymetry (DB) before and after the earthquake to determine coseismic fault slip, only the rigid-body translation component of the upper plate deformation was considered. In this work, we construct Synthetic Differential Bathymetry (SDB) using an elastic deformation model and make comparisons with the observed DB. We use a 3-D elastic Finite Element model with actual fault geometry of the Japan trench subduction zone and allowing the rupture to breach the trench. The SDB can well predict short-wavelength variations in the observed DB. Our tests using different coseismic slip models show that the internal elastic deformation of the hanging wall plays an important role in generating DB. Comparing the SDB with the observed DB suggests that the largest slip is located within ~ 50 km from the trench. The SDB proves to be the most effective tool to evaluate the performance of different rupture models in predicting near-trench slip. Our SDB work will further explore the updip slip variation. The SDB may help to constrain the slip gradient in the updip direction and may help to determine whether the large shallow slip in the Tohoku earthquake plateaued at the trench or before reaching the trench. Resolving these issues will provide some of the key tests for various competing models that were proposed to explain the large shallow rupture in this event.