Seismicity and structure of the Kamchatka Subduction Zone


  • Alexei Gorbatov,

  • Vladimir Kostoglodov,

  • Gerardo Suárez,

  • Evgeni Gordeev


The configuration of the Pacific plate subducted beneath the Kamchatka peninsula and the stress distribution in the Kamchatka subduction zone (KSZ) were studied using the catalog of the Kamchatka regional seismic network, focal mechanism solutions estimated from P wave first motions, the formal inversion of long-period waveforms, and centroid moment tensor solutions. To the south of ∼55°N, the slab shows an approximately constant dip angle of ∼55°. To the north of ∼55°N, the dip of the slab becomes shallower reaching ∼35°. The maximum depth of seismicity, Dm, varies from ∼500 km depth near 50°N to ∼300 km depth at ∼55°N. The volcanic front is almost linear along the main part of the KSZ whereas it is sharply shifted landward to the north of ∼55°N. The variation of Dm is apparently consistent with the standard empirical relation Dm=ƒ(ϕ), where ϕ is the thermal parameter of the subducted slab. To the north of ∼55°N, the slab is offset toward the northwest, and it is sharply deformed in a narrow contorted zone which is ∼30 km wide (∼56°N, ∼161°E). To the north of this contortion, Dm decreases to ∼100 km. The landward shift of the northern part of the slab is reflected by a sharp deviation of the volcanic front to the northwest which follows the ∼90–160 km isodepth range of the subducted slab. The observed value of Dm in the northern segment significantly diverges from the global relation Dm=ƒ(ϕ). We interpret this as an effective decrease of the thermal thickness of the subducted lithosphere.