A new method for evaluating the in situ rock strength beneath the seafloor is proposed and applied to the Nankai Trough accretionary prism. The depth-continuous in situ rock strength is a critical parameter for numerous studies in earth science, particularly for seismology and tectonics at plate convergence zones; yet, measurements are limited owing to a lack of drilled cores. Here, we propose a new indicator of strength, the equivalent strength (EST), which is determined only by drilling performance parameters such as drill string rotational torque, bit depth, and string rotational speed. A continuous depth profile of EST was drawn from 0 to 3000 m below the seafloor (mbsf) across the forearc basin and accretionary prism in the Nankai Trough. The EST did not show a significant increase around the forearc basin-accretionary prism boundary, but it did show a clear increase within the prism, ca. below 1500 mbsf. This result may indicate that even the shallow accretionary prism has been strengthened by horizontal compression derived from plate subduction. The EST is a potential parameter to continuously evaluate the in situ rock strength during drilling, and its accuracy of the absolute value can be improved by combining with laboratory drilling experiments.
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