Unusually Deep Bonin Earthquake (M7.9) of May 30, 2015 Suggests that Stagnant Slab Transforms into Penetration Stage

Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Masayuki Obayashi1, Yoshio Fukao1 and Junko Yoshimitsu2, (1)JAMSTEC Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Kanagawa, Japan, (2)JAMSTEC, D-EARTH, Yokosuka, Japan
A great shock occurred at an unusual depth of 678 km far away from the well-defined Wadati-Benioff zone of the Izu-Bonin arc (Fig.1). To the north of this region the slab is stagnant above the 660 km discontinuity and to the south it penetrates the discontinuity (Fig.2). Thus, the slab in this region can be viewed as in a transitional state from the stagnant to penetrating slab. Here, the steeply dipping part of the slab bends sharply to horizontal and the great shock happened at the lowest corner of this bending. The CMT indicates a pure normal faulting with the trench-normal near horizontal tensional axis and the near vertical compressional axis (Fig.1). We suggest that this mechanism reflects a transitional state of slab deformation from the bending-dominant mode to the penetration-dominant mode. The mechanism is consistent with either of these two two modes. We show that the mechanism is also consistent with the resultant stress field generated by many deep shocks occurring along the Wadati-Benioff zone. The calculated stress field changes rapidly along a trench-normal profile at a depth of 680 km and becomes similar to that generated by the great shock at points near the hypocenter (Fig.3). Thus, the stress field due to the Wadati-Benioff zone earthquakes works to enhance the occurrence of deep shocks of the type of the 2015 great shock, which represents slab deformation associated with the transition from stagnant to penetrating slab.