Past Event

MPG/SGT Seminar - Chris Scholz

April 24, 2024
12:10 PM - 1:10 PM
Gary C. Comer Geochemistry Building, 61 Route 9W, Palisades, NY 10964 Seminar Room

Presentation by Chris Scholz from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory



Do Subducted Seamounts act as Weak Asperities?
How a Bad Idea Came to be the accepted truth?



The additional work of ploughing makes seamounts more resistant to subduction and more strongly coupled than smoother areas. Nevertheless, the idea that subducted seamounts are weakly coupled and slip aseismically has become dominant in the last decade. This idea is primarily based on the claim that a seamount being subducted in the southern Japan Trench behaves this way. The key element in this assertion is that large M ∼ 7 earthquakes that abut the leading edge of the seamount require that the seamount be aseismically sliding to initiate them. More recent observations show instead that the surrounding region is aseismically sliding while the seamount acts as a stationary buttress. Here we re-examine this case and model it with both weak and strong asperity assumptions. Our modeling results show that only a strong asperity model can produce this type of earthquake. Strong asperities also rupture the seamount in great earthquakes with long recurrence times. This provides the previously unknown source for a series of great tsunami earthquakes that have occurred along the southern Japan Trench, the most recent being the 1677 M8.3–8.6 Enpo Boso-oki tsunami earthquake. The “weak asperity” hypothesis is thus found to be false in this foundational example.

The weak asperity model was initially based on an unsupported assumption that was subsequently shown to be false. The gradual development of this idea as the accepted model for seamount subduction is an example of the bandwagon effect in action. A brief introduction to this phenomenon and its application to the seamount case is presented.


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Contact Information

Eric Beauce