Spatial heterogeneities in tectonic stress in Kyushu, Japan and their relation to a major shear zone Seismology

Satoshi Matsumoto, Shigeru Nakao, Takahiro Ohkura, Masahiro Miyazaki, Hiroshi Shimizu, Yuki Abe, Hiroyuki Inoue, Manami Nakamoto, Shin Yoshikawa, Yusuke Yamashita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated the spatial variation in the stress fields of Kyushu Island, southwestern Japan. Kyushu Island is characterized by active volcanoes (Aso, Unzen, Kirishima, and Sakurajima) and a shear zone (western extension of the median tectonic line). Shallow earthquakes frequently occur not only along active faults but also in the central region of the island, which is characterized by active volcanoes. We evaluated the focal mechanisms of the shallow earthquakes on Kyushu Island to determine the relative deviatoric stress field. Generally, the stress field was estimated by using the method proposed by Hardebeck and Michael (2006) for the strike-slip regime in this area. The minimum principal compression stress (σ3), with its near north-south trend, is dominant throughout the entire region. However, the σ 3 axes around the shear zone are rotated normal to the zone. This result is indicative of shear stress reduction at the zone and is consistent with the right-lateral fault behavior along the zone detected by a strain-rate field analysis with global positioning system data. Conversely, the stress field of the normal fault is dominant in the Beppu-Shimabara area, which is located in the central part of the island. This result and the direction of σ3 are consistent with the formation of a graben structure in the area.

Original languageEnglish
Article number172
Journalearth, planets and space
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Space and Planetary Science


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