Finding Fault in Fault Zones

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Science  09 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5988, pp. 152-153
DOI: 10.1126/science.1192223

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What controls the location and size of seismic rupture along the 43,500 km of the world's subduction faults? Two reports in this issue, based on seismological observations, emphasize the key role of the structural evolution of faults. On page 207, Dean et al. (1) propose that a structural flaw of the sedimentary formation brought into the Sumatra subduction zone may facilitate rupture propagation. On page 210, Kimura et al. (2) propose that fracturing of the downward-going plate beneath the Kanto area in central Japan causes the subduction interface to be diverted to a deeper position and change its seismogenic behavior.