Global Prevalence of Double Benioff Zones

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Science  08 Jun 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5830, pp. 1472-1474
DOI: 10.1126/science.1139204

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Double Benioff zones provide opportunities for insight into seismogenesis because the underlying mechanism must explain two layers of deep earthquakes and the separation between them. We characterize layer separation inside subducting plates with a coordinate rotation to calculate the slab-normal distribution of earthquakes. Benchmark tests on well-established examples confirm that layer separation is accurately quantified with global seismicity catalogs alone. Global analysis reveals double Benioff zones in 30 segments, including all 16 subduction zones investigated, with varying subducting plate ages and stress orientations, which implies that they are inherent in subducting plates. Layer separation increases with age and is more consistent with dehydration of antigorite than chlorite.

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