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Intermediate depth earthquakes controlled by incoming plate hydration along bending-related faults

Boneh, Yuval and Schottenfels, Emily and Kwong, Kevin and van Zelst, Iris and Tong, Xinyue and Eimer, Melody and Miller, Meghan S. and Moresi, Louis and Warren, Jessica M. and Wiens, Douglas A. and Billen, Magali and Naliboff, John and Zhan, Zhongwen (2019) Intermediate depth earthquakes controlled by incoming plate hydration along bending-related faults. Geophysical Research Letters, 46 (7). pp. 3688-3697. ISSN 0094-8276. doi:10.1029/2018GL081585.

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Intermediate‐depth earthquakes (focal depths 70–300 km) are enigmatic with respect to their nucleation and rupture mechanism and the properties controlling their spatial distribution. Several recent studies have shown a link between intermediate‐depth earthquakes and the thermal‐petrological path of subducting slabs in relation to the stability field of hydrous minerals. Here we investigate whether the structural characteristics of incoming plates can be correlated with the intermediate‐depth seismicity rate. We quantify the structural characteristics of 17 incoming plates by estimating the maximum fault throw of bending‐related faults. Maximum fault throw exhibits a statistically significant correlation with the seismicity rate. We suggest that the correlation between fault throw and intermediate‐depth seismicity rate indicates the role of hydration of the incoming plate, with larger faults reflecting increased damage, greater fluid circulation, and thus more extensive slab hydration.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Boneh, Yuval0000-0002-0081-0113
Schottenfels, Emily0000-0002-4974-1737
van Zelst, Iris0000-0003-4698-9910
Miller, Meghan S.0000-0001-5494-2296
Moresi, Louis0000-0003-3685-174X
Warren, Jessica M.0000-0002-4046-4200
Wiens, Douglas A.0000-0002-5169-4386
Billen, Magali0000-0002-7316-1791
Zhan, Zhongwen0000-0002-5586-2607
Additional Information:© 2019 American Geophysical Union. Received 4 DEC 2018; Accepted 19 MAR 2019; Accepted article online 22 MAR 2019; Published online 4 APR 2019. This research project was initiated at the 2017 Cooperative Institute for Dynamic Earth Research (CIDER) summer program “Subduction Zone Dynamics” at the University of California, Berkeley. We wish to thank the other organizers B. Romanowicz, P. van Keken, E. Hauri, and C. Till. CIDER‐II is funded as a “Synthesis Center” by the Frontiers of Earth Systems Dynamics (FESD) program of NSF under grant number EAR‐1135452. We also wish to thank Geoffrey Abers and an anonymous reviewer for constructive comments and gratefully acknowledge Yi Hu, Wang‐Ping Chen, Samer Naif, and Hannah Rabinowitz for valuable discussions. Bathymetry profiles from GeoMapApp ( were used in this study and are included in the supporting information. A bathymetry profile from the Mariana trench (center) was collected by R/V Langseth cruise, MGL1204, and is available from NOAA at http://www.marine‐ Seismic data for the Japan trench were collected by JAMSTEC (KR13‐11). Seismicity data used to quantify the intermediate‐depth seismicity rate were taken from the International Seismological Centre (ISC) Bulletin earthquake catalog (
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:Subduction zone; Plate hydration; Intermediate depth earthquakes; Fault throw; Ocean floor bathymetry
Issue or Number:7
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190325-105341604
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Boneh, Y., Schottenfels, E., Kwong, K., Zelst, I., Tong, X., Eimer, M., et al. (2019). Intermediate‐depth earthquakes controlled by incoming plate hydration along bending‐related faults. Geophysical Research Letters, 46, 3688–3697.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:94118
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:25 Mar 2019 18:29
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:02

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