An interpretation of tsunami earthquake based on a simple dynamic model: Failure of shallow megathrust earthquake



[1] The 2011 Tohoku earthquake demonstrated that extremely large seismic slip can occur at shallow plate interfaces in subduction zones. The large slip area for the Tohoku earthquake included the source region of a tsunami earthquake. We performed dynamic rupture simulations using simplified fault models and the mechanism of thermal fluid pressurization. We found that small fluctuations of initial shear stress near a trench, within 1 MPa, lead to differences in seismic moment release greater than two orders of magnitude. In addition, we performed another experiment varying rupture nucleation sizes and obtained similar acute sensitivities of parameters. Moderate slip events with trapezoidal (flat‒topped) source time functions appear to occupy a transition position, between shallow megathrust earthquakes with surface rupture and smaller ordinary earthquakes without surface rupture. We interpret this result as representing the differences in interplate slip between shallow megathrust earthquakes, tsunami (moderate) earthquakes, and non‒tsunami (ordinary) earthquakes, on the basis of seismic observations.