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Large Trench-Parallel Gravity Variations Predict Seismogenic Behavior in Subduction Zones

Science  01 Aug 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5633, pp. 630-633
DOI: 10.1126/science.1085557

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Abstract

We demonstrate that great earthquakes occur predominantly in regions with a strongly negative trench-parallel gravity anomaly (TPGA), whereas regions with strongly positive TPGA are relatively aseismic. These observations suggest that, over time scales up to at least 1 million years, spatial variations of seismogenic behavior within a given subduction zone are stationary and linked to the geological structure of the fore-arc. The correlations we observe are consistent with a model in which spatial variations in frictional properties on the plate interface control trench-parellel variations in fore-arc topography, gravity, and seismogenic behavior.

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