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New type of slow earthquake detected

Earth News
Photo: The Marina beach in Madras, India, after tidal waves generated by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami hit the area.

Dec 01, 2006
Japanese researchers have discovered a new and sluggish kind of seismic activity that helps reveal the inner workings of faults capable of producing massive earthquakes like the one that generated the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The so-called "very low frequency" earthquakes join two other types of slow quakes previously detected in the deep portion of subduction zones, where one section of the Earth's crust dives under another. The newfound activity, along with the two other phenomena — non-volcanic deep tremors and slow slip — may contribute to the build up of stress in what are known as megathrust quake rupture zones. The new kind of seismic activity coincides in time and location with the two previously described kinds of slow quakes. Taken together, they should allow researchers to better track the increase of stress that can make big quakes more likely.

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