A Caltech Library Service

Initiation of the great M_w 9.0 Tohoku–Oki earthquake

Chu, Risheng and Wei, Shengji and Helmberger, Don. V. and Zhan, Zhongwen and Zhu, Lupei and Kanamori, Hiroo (2011) Initiation of the great M_w 9.0 Tohoku–Oki earthquake. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 308 (3-4). pp. 277-283. ISSN 0012-821X. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2011.06.031.

PDF - Supplemental Material
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


We determined the location, size, mechanism, and the frequency content of the first 4.0 s of the 2011 Tohoku–Oki earthquake. Since the beginning of this earthquake is very small, we develop a comparative approach against a near-by reference earthquake, the master event. We first determined the water depth near the master event using the differential timing between the water phase pwP reflected from the air–water interface and the depth phase pP reflected from the water–crust interface. Then we located the master event using the well-known ocean bathymetry in the area. After calibrating teleseismic arrays (Δ=30° to 90°) at short periods for timing and amplitude with respect to the master event, we were able to determine the initiation of themain event. It began as a small (M_w=4.9) thrust event located at 38.19°N, 142.68°E at a depth of 21 km, and, a few seconds later, evolved into a slower extremely large slip event up-dip.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Zhan, Zhongwen0000-0002-5586-2607
Kanamori, Hiroo0000-0001-8219-9428
Additional Information:© 2011 Elsevier B.V. Received 3 June 2011; revised 27 June 2011; accepted 28 June 2011. Editor: P. Shearer. Available online 13 July 2011. We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers. Their suggestions and comments made significant improvements to the manuscript. This work was partially supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. RC and DV Hare partially supported by the National Science Foundation through grant number EAR-0636012. Contribution 10062 of Seismological Laboratory, California Institute of Technology.
Group:Seismological Laboratory, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:the 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake; earthquake source parameters; earthquake initiation
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Caltech Seismological Laboratory10062
Issue or Number:3-4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20110906-141014618
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Risheng Chu, Shengji Wei, Don V. Helmberger, Zhongwen Zhan, Lupei Zhu, Hiroo Kanamori, Initiation of the great Mw 9.0 Tohoku-Oki earthquake, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume 308, Issues 3-4, 15 August 2011, Pages 277-283, ISSN 0012-821X, DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2011.06.031. (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:25234
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:06 Sep 2011 21:50
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 16:31

Repository Staff Only: item control page