Plate Boundary Field Laboratories

Plate Boundary Field Laboratories

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H. Tobin/IRIS Consortium

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Intraplate Earthquakes


Dense instrumentation facilities, high-resolution 3D seismic imaging, and deep drilling into active fault zones are essential approaches to understanding complex plate boundary systems. The Nankai Trough Seismogenic Zone Experiment (NanTroSEIZE) experiment is investigating the interface between the subducting Philippine Sea plate and the overriding continental plate along the Japanese margin, the site of prior magnitude 8 megathrust earthquakes. NanTroSEI ZE is an international experiment; the American component is part of the MARGINS initiative and the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP). Other large-scale efforts are being pursued in different environments, linking multidisciplinary observations into large field laboratories. One of the primary goals of such field laboratory experiments is to understand what fault properties control the transition between sections that slip aseismically and sections that slip primarily in earthquakes. Extensive subsurface mapping and monitoring using a variety of seismological and nonseismological techniques is central to these efforts. Rock samples from the drill holes can be carefully studied to understand their physical properties. Instruments can be installed downhole to study in situ rock properties and to monitor deformation and any small earthquakes that occur on or in the vicinity of the major faults. In situ measurements of thermal and hydrological properties are also part of key field laboratory efforts (Updated figure from provided by H. Tobin).

Date Taken: February 18, 2009
Photographer / Contributor: H. Tobin

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Seismological_Grand_Challenges, Long_Range_Science_Plan,

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