Multivariate Statistical and Multiproxy Constraints on Earthquake-Triggered Sediment Remobilization Processes in the Central Japan Trench

T. Schwestermann, J. Huang, J. Konzett, A. Kioka, G. Wefer, K. Ikehara, J. Moernaut, T. I. Eglinton, M. Strasser

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the impact of earthquakes on subaqueous environments is key for submarine paleoseismological investigations seeking to provide long-term records of past earthquakes. For this purpose, event deposits (e.g., turbidites) are, among others, identified and stratigraphically correlated over broad areas to test for synchronous occurrence of gravity flows. Hence, detailed spatiotemporal petrographic and geochemical fingerprints of such deposits are required to advance the knowledge about sediment source and the underlying remobilization processes induced by past earthquakes. In this study, we develop for the first time in paleoseismology a multivariate statistical approach using X-ray fluorescence core scanning, magnetic susceptibility, and wet bulk density data that allow to test, confirm, and enhance the previous visual and lithostratigraphic correlation across two isolated basins in the central Japan Trench. The statistical correlation is further confirmed by petrographic heavy grain analysis of the turbidites and additionally combined with our novel erosion model based on previously reported bulk organic carbon 14C dates. We find surficial sediment remobilization, a process whereby strong seismic shaking remobilizes the uppermost few centimeters of surficial slope sediment, to be a predominant remobilization process, which partly initiates deeper sediment remobilization downslope during strong earthquakes at the Japan Trench. These findings shed new light on source-to-sink transport processes in hadal trenches during earthquakes and help to assess the completeness of the turbidite paleoseismic record. Our results further suggest that shallow-buried tephra on the slope might significantly influence sediment remobilization and the geochemical and petrographic fingerprints of the resulting event deposits.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2019GC008861
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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