“It changes the way we think about stress in these systems,” added Safer, who co-led the research and the scientific mission that dug up the bug.
In geology, a fault is a fracture in which the masses of the crust move on both sides relative to each other parallel to the fracture.
The findings, documented in the Journal of Geology, are interesting because the fault was thought to have been preparing for a major earthquake, which typically occurs about every century.
Although the Nankai fault has been discontinued for years, the analysis reveals that there are no significant indications of tectonic stress yet to be released.
But “that doesn’t change the long-term view of the fault, which last erupted in 1946 – when it caused a tsunami that killed thousands – and is expected to happen again within the next 50 years,” Saffir warned.
Understand the relationship between tectonic forces and the earthquake cycle
Seismology section showing the location of all IODP drilling sites.
The discoveries will help researchers better understand the relationship between tectonic forces and the earthquake cycle, which may improve earthquake predictions for both the Nankai and other faults such as the Cascadia in the Pacific Northwest.
said Harold Tobin, a researcher at the University of Washington and first author of the paper.
“But I have some optimism that with more and more direct observations like this, we can begin to recognize when something abnormal has occurred and that the risk of an earthquake is increasing in a way that can help people prepare.”
According to scientists, there is currently no accurate technology to predict when and where the next major earthquake or tsunami will occur, despite the fact that huge faults such as the Nankai and the tsunamis they produce are among the most destructive faults on the planet.
The researchers hope to directly measure tectonic stress — the force one feels when tectonic plates are pushed against each other — to determine when a major earthquake occurs.
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