The 2011 moment magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-Oki earthquake produced a maximum coseismic slip of more than 50 meters near the Japan trench, which could result in a completely reduced stress state in the region. We tested this hypothesis by determining the in situ stress state of the frontal prism from boreholes drilled by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program approximately 1 year after the earthquake and by inferring the pre-earthquake stress state. On the basis of the horizontal stress orientations and magnitudes estimated from borehole breakouts and the increase in coseismic displacement during propagation of the rupture to the trench axis, in situ horizontal stress decreased during the earthquake. The stress change suggests an active slip of the frontal plate interface, which is consistent with coseismic fault weakening and a nearly total stress drop.
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