Low coseismic friction on the Tohoku-Oki fault determined from temperature measurements. Academic Article uri icon


  • The frictional resistance on a fault during slip controls earthquake dynamics. Friction dissipates heat during an earthquake; therefore, the fault temperature after an earthquake provides insight into the level of friction. The Japan Trench Fast Drilling Project (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 343 and 343T) installed a borehole temperature observatory 16 months after the March 2011 moment magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-Oki earthquake across the fault where slip was ~50 meters near the trench. After 9 months of operation, the complete sensor string was recovered. A 0.31C temperature anomaly at the plate boundary fault corresponds to 27 megajoules per square meter of dissipated energy during the earthquake. The resulting apparent friction coefficient of 0.08 is considerably smaller than static values for most rocks.

published proceedings

  • Science

altmetric score

  • 340.998

author list (cited authors)

  • Fulton, P. M., Brodsky, E. E., Kano, Y., Mori, J., Chester, F., Ishikawa, T., ... Expedition 343, 343T, and KR13-08 Scientists.

citation count

  • 221

publication date

  • January 2013