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The research team says that underground fluids may have caused the recent earthquakes in central Japan

The research team says that underground fluids may have caused the recent earthquakes in central Japan


The shrine gate collapsed after the recent earthquake in Suzu, Ishikawa Prefecture, on June 19, 2022, as seen in this photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter. (Mainichi)

A research team suggested that the powerful earthquakes that struck Ishikawa Prefecture in central Japan on June 19-20 amid a wave of recent earthquakes may have been caused by underground fluids.

The team, made up of researchers from Kyoto University’s Disaster Prevention Research Institute and Kanazawa University, which has continued to monitor the affected areas, noted that fluid may have seeped into the fault level along which the earthquakes occur, making clumps of rock on each side. The error is likely to slip. While the June 19 earthquake registered less than 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale in Noto District, Ishikawa Prefecture, the following day the earthquake level reached 5 degrees higher in the area. It is said that there are concerns that the ongoing activity will rupture an active submarine fault that could cause more intense earthquakes.

Since about 2018, earthquakes have become increasingly common in the Noto region of the Prefecture on the coast of the Sea of ​​Japan. More than 160 earthquakes measuring 1 or higher on the 7-point Japanese seismic intensity scale struck between December 2020 and June 20, 2022, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

The Kyoto and Kanazawa University team raised two factors as the main causes of the recent seismic activity.

The first is that a huge amount of water and other liquids has accumulated underground and swelled, putting pressure on the surrounding crust. According to the Japan Geospatial Information Authority, the surface of the Earth in Suzu City, Ishikawa Prefecture, where the seismic intensity of the most recent earthquakes recorded up to 6 on the Japanese scale, has risen about 4 centimeters since December 2020.

Another factor is that fluid has seeped into the fault vents below the Noto Peninsula, which is thought to have caused the gaps between the blocks of rock to widen and make them slide more. As of 2022, the height of the Earth’s surface appears to have decreased, but the number of earthquakes in the region is rising. “Of the two reasons, the tendency of fluids to seep into the fault level and act as a lubricant appears to have been observed more strongly recently,” said Kanazawa University seismology professor Yoshihiro Hiramatsu.

Takuya Nishimura, Professor of Geodesy at Kyoto University, estimates that underground fluids under the Noto Peninsula amounted to about 2 million cubic meters per year as of December 2020. This is equivalent to the amount of magma that active volcanoes in Japan accumulate in one. general. It is believed that due to the high temperature and pressure, water and other fluids seeped from the Pacific plate, which sinks deep into the earth under the continental plate below the Noto Peninsula, and rose into the rift.

The Matsushiro earthquakes that occurred in Nagano Prefecture between 1965 and 1970 are known examples of seismic swarm activity caused by ground fluids. The seismic sequence eventually subsided after a large amount of water exploded on the Earth’s surface. Although the Matsushiro earthquakes were of a shallower focus compared to the last earthquake, warns Nishimura, “The Noto Peninsula earthquakes are becoming shallower. This occurs in conjunction with the rise of underground fluids, which we can conclude makes earthquakes more likely to occur. Huge tremors on the Earth’s surface.

“We cannot rule out the possibility of a magnitude 7 earthquake caused by liquids,” Hiramatsu noted. Regarding future seismic activity, he said, “Although it is uncertain for how long, it is estimated that the earthquakes will last for a while.”

At a press conference on June 20, the JMA announced that the earthquake that occurred on the same day struck at a location about 5 kilometers east of the epicenter of the previous day’s earthquake. Noriko Kamaya, Head of the Seismic and Tsunami Monitoring Department, commented, “These are earthquakes that have occurred because earthquakes have been going on in the area for more than a year, and we don’t know if they were major earthquakes or aftershocks. A series of earthquakes continued for a long time, and since it is expected that It continues, we’re asking residents to ensure things don’t collapse, especially in bedrooms.”

(Japanese original by Yorika Tarumi and Tomohiro Ikeda, Science and Environment News Division)




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