• Lacustrine;
  • Nakayamadaira Basin;
  • Onikobe basin;
  • soft-sediment deformation;
  • trigger mechanisms

Five main deformation units, discrete sheets of deformed sediments that lie between a significant thickness of undeformed sediment, were selected for study within Late Pleistocene lacustrine sands and clays in the Onikobe and Nakayamadaira Basins, northeastern Japan. The deformed units show evidence of deformation by a variety of mechanisms including fluidization, liquefaction, brittle failure and cohesive flow. Driving forces are thought to be primarily reverse density gradient systems, but also include gravitational body force, shear stress and unequal loading. The main trigger mechanisms are firstly earthquakes, secondly overloading from volcanic sands and thirdly, to a lesser extent, subaqueous currents. Consideration is given to criteria that allow the trigger mechanism to be identified. This study shows that the following criteria can be used to identify a seismic triggering agent: (i) setting; (ii) the extent of the deformation units; (iii) absence of evidence relating to other potential trigger mechanisms; and (iv) evidence relating to other potential trigger mechanisms is present but can be seen elsewhere in the stratigraphic section associated with undeformed sediment. Conversely, the following criteria, while they are important in interpreting the driving force and deformation mechanism, have no relevance to the trigger mechanism: (i) sediment composition; (ii) deformation structures being restricted to a single stratigraphic interval (<1 m thick) (not necessarily correlatable over large areas); and (iii) similarity to structures in the literature.