Citation: Xin Zhou, Gabriele Cambiotti, WenKe Sun, Roberto Sabadini, 2018: Co-seismic slip distribution of the 2011 Tohoku (MW 9.0) earthquake inverted from GPS and space-borne gravimetric data, Earth and Planetary Physics, 2, 120-138. doi: 10.26464/epp2018013

2018, 2(2): 120-138. doi: 10.26464/epp2018013


Co-seismic slip distribution of the 2011 Tohoku (MW 9.0) earthquake inverted from GPS and space-borne gravimetric data


Key Laboratory of Crustal Dynamics, Institute of Crustal Dynamics, China Earthquake Administration, Beijing 100085, China


Department of Earth Sciences, University of Milan, Via Cicognara 7, Milano, 20133, Italy


Key Laboratory of Computational Geodynamics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

Corresponding author: Xin Zhou, Sun,

Received Date: 2018-01-02
Web Publishing Date: 2018-03-01

Data obtained by GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) have been used to invert for the seismic source parameters of megathrust earthquakes under the assumption of either uniform slip over an entire fault or a point-like seismic source. Herein, we further extend the inversion of GRACE long-wavelength gravity changes to heterogeneous slip distributions during the 2011 Tohoku earthquake using three fault models: (I) a constant-strike and constant-dip fault, (II) a variable dip fault, and (III) a realistically varying strike fault. By removing the post-seismic signal from the time series, and taking the effect of ocean water redistribution into account, we invert for slip models I, II, and III using co-seismic gravity changes measured by GRACE, de-striped by DDK3 decorrelation filter. The total seismic moments of our slip models, with respective values of 4.9×1022 Nm, 5.1×1022 Nm, and 5.0×1022 Nm, are smaller than those obtained by other studies relying on GRACE data. The resulting centroids are also located at greater depths (20 km, 19.8 km, and 17.4 km, respectively). By combining onshore GPS, GPS-Acoustic, and GRACE data, we obtain a jointly inverted slip model with a seismic moment of 4.8×1022 Nm, which is larger than the seismic moment obtained using only the GPS displacements. We show that the slip inverted from low degree space-borne gravimetric data, which contains information at the ocean region, is affected by the strike of the arcuate trench. The space-borne gravimetric data help us constrain the source parameters of a megathrust earthquake within the frame of heterogeneous slip models.

Key words: GRACE; slip distribution; inversion; co-seismic gravity changes; GPS

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Co-seismic slip distribution of the 2011 Tohoku (MW 9.0) earthquake inverted from GPS and space-borne gravimetric data

Xin Zhou, Gabriele Cambiotti, WenKe Sun, Roberto Sabadini