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Spatial relation between source regions of strong earthquakes (M ≥ 7) on Southern Kamchatka and the distribution of velocities and elastic moduli in the Benioff zone

  • Kuzin, I. P.1
  • Solov’eva, O. N.1
  • Flenov, A. B.1
  • 1 Russian Academy of Sciences, Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Nakhimovskii pr. 36, Moscow, 117851, Russia , Moscow (Russia)
Published Article
Izvestiya, Physics of the Solid Earth
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2006
DOI: 10.1134/S1069351306010046
Springer Nature


The presence of a phenomenological relationship between high velocity regions in the Benioff zone and sources of relatively strong earthquakes (M ≥ 6) was established for the first time from the comparison of such earthquakes with the velocity structure of central Kamchatka in the early 1970s. It was found that, in the region with P wave velocities of 8.1–8.5 km/s, the number of M ≥ 6 earthquakes over 1926–1965 was 2.5 times greater than their number in the region with velocities of 7.5–8.0 km/s. Later (in 1979), within the southern Kurile area, Sakhalin seismologists established that regions with VP = 7.3–7.7 km/s are associated with source zones of M = 7.0–7.6 earthquakes and regions with VP = 8.1–8.4 km/s are associated with M = 7.9–8.4 earthquakes. In light of these facts, we compared the positions of M = 7.0–7.4 earthquake sources in the Benioff zone of southern Kamchatka over the period 1907–1993 with the distribution of regions of high P velocities (8.0–8.5 to 8.5–9.0 km/s) derived from the interpretation of arrival time residuals at the Shipunskii station from numerous weak earthquakes in this zone (more than 2200 events of M = 2.3–4.9) over the period 1983–1995. This comparison is possible only in the case of long-term stability of the velocity field within the Benioff zone. This stability is confirmed by the relationship between velocity parameters and tectonics in the southern part of the Kurile arc, where island blocks are confined to high velocity regions in the Benioff zone and the straits between islands are confined to low velocity regions. The sources of southern Kamchatka earthquakes with M = 7.0–7.4, which are not the strongest events, are located predominantly within high velocity regions and at their boundaries with low velocity regions; i.e., the tendency previously established for the strongest earthquakes of the southern Kuriles and central Kamchatka is confirmed. However, to demonstrate more definitely their association with regions of high P wave velocities, a larger statistics of such earthquakes is required. On the basis of a direct correlation between P wave velocities and densities, the distributions of density, bulk modulus K, and shear modulus μ in the upper mantle of the Benioff zone of southern Kamchatka are obtained for the first time. Estimated densities vary from 3.6–3.9 g/cm3 in regions of high VP values to 3.0–3.2 g/cm3 for regions of low VP values. The bulk modulus K in the same velocity regions varies from (1.4–1.8) × 1012 to (0.8–1.1) × 1012 dyn/cm2, respectively, and the shear modulus μ varies from (0.8–1.0) × 1012 to (0.5–0.7) × 1012 dyn/cm2, respectively. Examination of the spatial correlation of the source areas of southern Kamchatka M = 7.0–7.4 earthquakes with the distribution of elastic moduli in the Benioff zone failed to reveal any relationship between their magnitudes and the moduli because of the insufficient statistics of the earthquakes used.

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