The pore fluid pressure distribution in the focal region of the 2008 Iwate-Miyagi Nairiku earthquake was investigated through an analysis of the diversity of focal mechanisms. We inverted stress orientations and focal mechanisms directly from P-wave polarity data obtained from a dense aftershock observation network and other temporarily and routinely operated stations. The estimated stress orientation is consistent with that typical of NE Japan. Specifically, the σ1 axis is oriented WNW-ESE nearly parallel to plate convergence, and the σ3 axis is nearly vertical, consistent with a reverse-faulting stress regime, with some exceptions in the central part of the aftershock area. We obtained 2,497 well-determined focal mechanisms whose average number of P-wave polarity data is more than 70. The spatial distribution of pore fluid pressure was estimated by using the obtained orientations of the principal stresses and earthquake faults. The pore pressure ratio for each earthquake fault was calculated under the assumption that reduced frictional strength was caused by pore fluid pressure. The results showed that the diversity of the focal mechanisms here obtained requires high pore fluid pressures at many of the earthquake faults in the focal region. The spatial pattern of pore pressure ratio shows that areas of higher pore pressure ratio are distributed around the large coseismic slip area near Kurikoma volcano. Immediately beneath these high pore pressure areas, there exists a distinct seismic low-velocity zone that continues down to the mantle wedge below. These observations suggest that crustal fluids supplied from the mantle wedge have contributed to producing high pore pressures and to lowering the frictional strengths of those faults. Crustal fluids may also have contributed to generating the mainshock rupture.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes