Coseismic rupturing stopped by Aso volcano during the 2016 Mw 7.1 Kumamoto earthquake, Japan

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Science  18 Nov 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6314, pp. 869-874
DOI: 10.1126/science.aah4629

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A volcanic end to an earthquake

The dangerous and active Aso volcanic cluster appears to have put an early end to the damaging magnitude 7.1 Kumamoto earthquake that struck Japan in April 2016. Lin et al. found that the fault rupture stopped underneath the Aso caldera. The unzipping of the fault ended where the rocks went from cold and brittle to a more liquid-like magmatic mush. This distinctive example shows how abrupt changes in rock properties can terminate fault rupture and cap the size of an earthquake.

Science, this issue p. 869


Field investigations and seismic data show that the 16 April 2016 moment magnitude (Mw) 7.1 Kumamoto earthquake produced a ~40-kilometer-long surface rupture zone along the northeast-southwest–striking Hinagu-Futagawa strike-slip fault zone and newly identified faults on the western side of Aso caldera, Kyushu Island, Japan. The coseismic surface ruptures cut Aso caldera, including two volcanic cones inside it, but terminate therein. The data show that northeastward propagation of coseismic rupturing terminated in Aso caldera because of the presence of magma beneath the Aso volcanic cluster. The seismogenic faults of the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake may require reassessment of the volcanic hazard in the vicinity of Aso volcano.

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