A Post-Tohoku earthquake review of earthquake probabilities in the Southern Kanto District, Japan

Paul G. Somerville

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The 2011 Mw 9.0 Tohoku earthquake generated an aftershock sequence that affected a large part of northern Honshu, and has given rise to widely divergent forecasts of changes in earthquake occurrence probabilities in northern Honshu. The objective of this review is to assess these forecasts as they relate to potential changes in the occurrence probabilities of damaging earthquakes in the Kanto Region. It is generally agreed that the 2011 Mw 9.0 Tohoku earthquake increased the stress on faults in the southern Kanto district. Toda and Stein (Geophys Res Lett 686, 40: doi:10.1002, 2013) further conclude that the probability of earthquakes in the Kanto Corridor has increased by a factor of 2.5 for the time period 11 March 2013 to 10 March 2018 in the Kanto Corridor. Estimates of earthquake probabilities in a wider region of the Southern Kanto District by Nanjo et al. (Geophys J Int, doi:10.1093, 2013) indicate that any increase in the probability of earthquakes is insignificant in this larger region. Uchida et al. (Earth Planet Sci Lett 374: 81–91, 2013) conclude that the Philippine Sea plate the extends well north of the northern margin of Tokyo Bay, inconsistent with the Kanto Fragment hypothesis of Toda et al. (Nat Geosci, 1:1–6,2008), which attributes deep earthquakes in this region, which they term the Kanto Corridor, to a broken fragment of the Pacific plate. The results of Uchida and Matsuzawa (J Geophys Res 115:B07309, 2013)support the conclusion that fault creep in southern Kanto may be slowly relaxing the stress increase caused by the Tohoku earthquake without causing more large earthquakes. Stress transfer calculations indicate a large stress transfer to the Off Boso Segment as a result of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. However, Ozawa et al. (J Geophys Res 117:B07404, 2012) used onshore GPS measurements to infer large post-Tohoku creep on the plate interface in the Off-Boso region, and Uchida and Matsuzawa (ibid.) measured similar large creep off the Boso Peninsula. Thus some of the large stress transfer may be undergoing aseismic release, consistent with pre-Tohoku geodetic data, so a large earthquake on the Off Boso segment may have a low probability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalGeoscience letters
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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