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Keywords:

  • magnetotellurics;
  • subduction;
  • slow slip;
  • plate coupling

The coupling of tectonic plates—the degree to which the plates are locked together or free to move—is controlled by factors ranging from temperature and pressure to the shear stress between the plates as well as the shape of the interface between the plates. At subduction margins, GPS observations can be used to identify places where the subducting plates are locked or unlocked. At the Hikurangi margin, a subduction zone that runs north to south off New Zealand's eastern coast, a strong longitudinal gradient in plate coupling is present that is unexplained by any of the familiar factors.