Understanding earthquake processes and crustal deformation requires knowledge of the stress concentration process in the crust. With the enhancement of observation networks, it has become possible to consider in detail the relationships between localized deformation and seismic activity in island arcs and the process of stress concentration. According to previous studies, inelastic deformation in localized weak zones in the crust is considered to play an important role in the stress concentration process. Kyushu, located in southwest Japan, has a 20-30 km band-like active seismic activity and an enclosed aseismic zone. In particular, a part of the seismic active region called the Beppu-Simahara Graben, which is dominated by north-south extensional deformation, is characterized by high seismic activity and a remarkable aseismic zone. We identified the relationship between inelastic deformation and stress concentration processes in this area by using analyses of geodetic and seismic data. The results inverted from both the strain rate field obtained by the geodetic observations and the deviatoric stress field estimated from focal mechanism data reveal a large inelastic deformation zone (∼ 10-7 yr-1) beneath the area of active seismicity. From comparison with previous works, the inelastic deformation zone in the lower crust may correspond to an area with high temperature and/or fluid. This may suggest that inelastic deformation is in progress in the area where the strength of lower crustal rocks has reduced due to the presence of geothermics and/or fluids. Furthermore, we confirmed that this inelastic deformation causes stress concentrations of up to 10 kPa yr-1 in the upper crust. These results show that stress concentration occurs locally in the upper crust, above the inelastic deformation zone in the weakened lower crust, owing to the presence of geothermal and/or fluid; this stress concentration induces seismic activity and crustal deformation.
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