One of the world’s largest active volcanoes stemmed a 7.1 temblor in Japan
A titanic volcano stopped a mega-sized earthquake in its tracks.
In April, pent-up stress along the Futagawa-Hinagu Fault Zone in Japan began to unleash a magnitude 7.1 earthquake. The rupture traveled about 30 kilometers along the fault until it reached Mount Aso, one of Earth’s largest active volcanoes. That’s where the quake met its demise, geophysicist Aiming Lin of Kyoto University in Japan and colleagues report online October 20 in Science. The quake moved across the volcano’s caldronlike crater and abruptly stopped, the researchers found.
Geophysical evidence suggests that a region of rising magma lurks beneath the volcano. This magma chamber created upward pressure plus horizontal stresses that acted as an impassable roadblock for the seismic slip powering the quake, the researchers propose. This rare meetup, the researchers warn, may have undermined the structural integrity surrounding the magma chamber, increasing the likelihood of an eruption at Aso.
A. Lin et al. Coseismic rupturing stopped by Aso volcano during the 2016 Mw 7.1 Kumamoto earthquake, Japan. Science. Published online October 20, 2016. doi: 10.1126/science.aah4629.
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