YEAR - 2017

Fluid escape from subduction zones controlled by channel-forming reactive porosity

Oliver Plümper, Timm John, Yuri Y. Podladchikov, Johannes C. Vrijmoed & Marco Scambelluri

Pressure during subduction is thought to reduce porosity and restrict water escape from the slab. Thermodynamic modelling shows that channel networks, which grow around local chemical heterogeneities, can help drain the subducting plate.

Abstract.  Full Text  | PDF (4,609 KB) | Supplementary information

Potentially exploitable supercritical geothermal resources in the ductile crust

Noriaki Watanabe, Tatsuya Numakura, Kiyotoshi Sakaguchi, Hanae Saishu, Atsushi Okamoto, Steven E. Ingebritsen & Noriyoshi Tsuchiya


The brittle–ductile transition is thought to control crustal permeability. Laboratory experiments and model simulations show that permeability is also stress dependent and ductile granitic rocks may have enough permeability to host geothermal resources.

Abstract.   Full Text   PDF (432 KB).   Supplementary information

YEAR - 2016

Subduction megathrust creep governed by pressure solution and frictional–viscous flow

Åke Fagereng & Sabine A. M. den Hartog

The controls on fast versus slow fault slip in subduction zones are unclear. Rock deformation experiments suggest that faults within the seismogenic region of a subduction zone may slip aseismically due to pressure solution creep.

Abstract| Full Text | PDF (1,467 KB)

Triggering of the 2014 Mw7.3 Papanoa earthquake by a slow slip event in Guerrero, Mexico

M. Radiguet, H. Perfettini, N. Cotte, A. Gualandi, B. Valette, V. Kostoglodov, T. Lhomme, A. Walpersdorf, E. Cabral Cano & M. Campillo

Links between subduction zone earthquakes and slow slip on the plate interface are unclear. Reconstructions of a slow slip event in the Guerrero subduction zone segment, in Mexico, suggest that the event triggered the 2014 Papanoa earthquake.

Abstract| Full Text. | PDF (2,752 KB)

Earthquake potential revealed by tidal influence on earthquake size–frequency statistics

Satoshi Ide, Suguru Yabe & Yoshiyuki Tanaka

Tidal triggering of earthquakes is debated. Analysis of global earthquake catalogue data compared with tidal stress histories suggests that the probability of a large earthquake is greater during times of maximum tidal stress amplitude.

| Full Text | PDF (741 KB)| Supplementary information


Active shortening within the Himalayan orogenic wedge implied by the 2015 Gorkha earthquake

Kelin X. Whipple, Manoochehr Shirzaei, Kip V. Hodges & J. Ramon Arrowsmith


The Himalaya grow as the Indian Plate is thrust beneath Tibet. Analysis of surface deformation caused by the 2015 Gorkha earthquake suggests slip on smaller-scale faults at the foot of the high Himalaya help build Earth’s highest peaks.

Abstract | Full Text | PDF (18,136 KB) | Supplementary information

Precursory changes in seismic velocity for the spectrum of earthquake failure modes

M. M. Scuderi, C. Marone, E. Tinti, G. Di Stefano & C. Collettini


Whether fast and slow earthquakes nucleate in the same way is unclear. Laboratory simulations of fast and slow slip reveal similar precursor seismic signals for both modes, suggesting the same physical mechanisms may govern both types of slip.

First Paragraph| Full Text| PDF (2,663 KB)| Supplementary information

Earthquake nucleation in weak subducted carbonates

Robert M. Kurzawski, Michael Stipp, André R. Niemeijer, Christopher J. Spiers & Jan H. Behrmann


Subduction zones consume seafloor carbonates. Laboratory experiments on carbonate fault gouge from the Costa Rican subduction zone show that carbonates weaken with increasing temperature and pore-fluid pressure, and may nucleate earthquakes.

Abstract| Full Text| PDF (2,580 KB)| Supplementary information

Himalayan strain reservoir inferred from limited afterslip following the Gorkha earthquake

David Mencin, Rebecca Bendick, Bishal Nath Upreti, Danda Pani Adhikari, Ananta Prasad Gajurel, Roshan Raj Bhattarai, Hari Ram Shrestha, Tara Nidhi Bhattarai, Niraj Manandhar, John Galetzka, Ellen Knappe, Beth Pratt-Sitaula, Abdelkrim Aoudia & Roger Bilham


Great Himalayan earthquakes are rare. Analysis of surface motions in the months after the 2015 Gorkha earthquake reveals negligible aseismic slip, implying that stress may be stored in the crust to be tapped during future great earthquakes.

First Paragraph| Full Text| PDF (3,656 KB)| Supplementary information



Late-stage volatile saturation as a potential trigger for explosive volcanic eruptions -pp249 - 254

Michael J. Stock, Madeleine C. S. Humphreys, Victoria C. Smith, Roberto Isaia & David M. Pyle


Magma reservoirs typically accumulate over hundreds to thousands of years. Yet, geochemical analyses of volcanic rocks from Campi Flegrei suggest activity there was triggered by injections of volatile-rich magma only days before the eruption.

Abstract | Full Text | PDF (661 KB) | Supplementary information


Groundwater flow as a cooling agent of the continental lithosphere-pp227 - 230

Henk Kooi


Groundwater flow redistributes heat in the Earth’s crust. Numerical simulations of groundwater flow show net cooling of groundwater basins, as well as cooling of the underlying lithosphere in areas where groundwater flows over large distances.

First Paragraph | Full Text | PDF (485 KB) | Supplementary information


Formation of lower continental crust by relamination of buoyant arc lavas and plutons -pp197 - 205

Peter B. Kelemen & Mark D. Behn


The formation of Earth's continents is unclear. A review of the geochemical composition of crust formed above subduction zones across the globe suggests that subduction and relamination of buoyant magmatic rocks play an important role.

Abstract | Full Text | PDF (440 KB) | Supplementary information


Himalayan megathrust geometry and relation to topography revealed by the Gorkha earthquake -pp174 - 180

J. R. Elliott, R. Jolivet, P. J. González, J.-P. Avouac, J. Hollingsworth, M. P. Searle & V. L. Stevens


How Himalayan topography is built is unclear. Analysis of surface displacement during the 2015 Gorkha earthquake suggests that large earthquakes may lower the high Himalayan mountains, and topography may grow during the interseismic phase.

Abstract- | Full Text | PDF (2,691 KB) | Supplementary information


A mixed seismic–aseismic stress release episode in the Andean subduction zone -pp150 - 154

J. C. Villegas-Lanza, J.-M. Nocquet, F. Rolandone, M. Vallée, H. Tavera, F. Bondoux, T. Tran, X. Martin & M. Chlieh


Subduction zone earthquakes can be followed by aseismic slip. Analysis of fault slip in northern Peru reveals transient aseismic slip that lasted for seven months and released more than 1,000% of the energy expelled by the quake that preceded it.

First Paragraph- | Full Text | PDF (853 KB) | Supplementary information


Emergence of blueschists on Earth linked to secular changes in oceanic crust composition -pp60 - 64

Richard M. Palin & Richard W. White


An absence in the ancient geological record of blueschist metamorphic rocks has been taken as evidence against early subduction. Thermodynamic calculations now suggest that blueschist rocks could not have formed on a younger, hotter Earth.

First Paragraph- | Full Text | PDF (510 KB) | Supplementary information

See also: News and Views by Korenaga


Internal deformation of the subducted Nazca slab inferred from seismic anisotropy -pp56 - 59

Caroline M. Eakin, Maureen D. Long, Alissa Scire, Susan L. Beck, Lara S. Wagner, George Zandt & Hernando Tavera


Subducting oceanic plates are often considered as cold, rigid slabs. Analysis of seismic anisotropy in the subducted Nazca Plate beneath Peru suggests that the plate has deformed internally during subduction.

First Paragraph- | Full Text | PDF (1,476 KB) | Supplementary information



YEAR - 2015



Mantle flow geometry from ridge to trench beneath the Gorda–Juan de Fuca plate system -pp965 - 968

Robert Martin-Short, Richard M. Allen, Ian D. Bastow, Eoghan Totten & Mark A. Richards


Shallow mantle flow could be induced by the motions of overriding tectonic plates or by deeper mantle convection. Analysis of mantle flow patterns in the Pacific Northwest shows that flow aligns with the motions of the largest oceanic plates.

First Paragraph- | Full Text | PDF (911 KB) | Supplementary information

See also: News and Views by Currie


Link between plate fabric, hydration and subduction zone seismicity in Alaska -pp961 - 964

Donna J. Shillington, Anne Bécel, Mladen R. Nedimović, Harold Kuehn, Spahr C. Webb, Geoffrey A. Abers, Katie M. Keranen, Jiyao Li, Matthias Delescluse & Gabriel A. Mattei-Salicrup


Subduction carries water into the Earth where it can influence seismicity. Analysis of the structure of the Alaskan subduction zone suggests fluid delivery is influenced by faults in the oceanic plate that formed at the mid-ocean ridge.

First Paragraph- | Full Text | PDF (4,086 KB) | Supplementary information


Seismic slip on an upper-plate normal fault during a large subduction megathrust rupture -pp955 - 960

Stephen P. Hicks & Andreas Rietbrock


Slip during subduction zone earthquakes is often assumed to occur on a single fault. Analysis of a 2011 Chilean earthquake shows that the event was composed of two quakes, with megathrust rupture triggering slip in the overriding plate.

First Paragraph- | Full Text | PDF (1,744 KB) | Supplementary information


Ubiquitous weakening of faults due to thermal pressurization -pp875 - 879

Robert C. Viesca & Dmitry I. Garagash


Faults weaken during earthquakes. Analysis of the amount of energy released during earthquakes globally suggests that heat-induced pressurization of pore fluids can weaken faults during earthquakes of all sizes.

First Paragraph- | Full Text | PDF (644 KB) | Supplementary information


Spectrum of slip behaviour in Tohoku fault zone samples at plate tectonic slip rates -pp870 - 874

Matt J. Ikari, Yoshihiro Ito, Kohtaro Ujiie & Achim J. Kopf


The Tohoku earthquake ruptured a fault that also generates slow slip events. Laboratory experiments on rock samples from the fault show that this spectrum of slip behaviours is a natural consequence of shearing at slow plate-convergence rates.

First Paragraph- | Full Text | PDF (912 KB) | Supplementary information

See also: News and Views by Savage


Cratonic root beneath North America shifted by basal drag from the convecting mantle -pp797 - 800

Mikhail K. Kaban, Walter D. Mooney & Alexey G. Petrunin


Continental cores, or cratons, are thought to have been stable for billions of years. Analysis of seismic images, however, suggests that the craton root deep beneath North America may have been shifted by mantle flow.

First Paragraph- | Full Text | PDF (2,571 KB) | Supplementary information



A record of spontaneous subduction initiation in the Izu–Bonin–Mariana arc -pp728 - 733

Richard J. Arculus, Osamu Ishizuka, Kara A. Bogus, Michael Gurnis, Rosemary Hickey-Vargas, Mohammed H. Aljahdali, Alexandre N. Bandini-Maeder, Andrew P. Barth, Philipp A. Brandl, Laureen Drab, Rodrigo do Monte Guerra, Morihisa Hamada, Fuqing Jiang, Kyoko Kanayama, Sev Kender, Yuki Kusano, He Li, Lorne C. Loudin, Marco Maffione, Kathleen M. Marsaglia, Anders McCarthy, Sebastién Meffre, Antony Morris, Martin Neuhaus, Ivan P. Savov, Clara Sena, Frank J. Tepley III, Cees van der Land, Gene M. Yogodzinski & Zhaohui Zhang


How plate tectonic subduction is initiated is unclear. Analysis of sediments and rock cores taken from the Izu–Bonin–Mariana subduction zone trench suggests subduction started spontaneously in this region around 50 million years ago.

Abstract- | Full Text | PDF (1,485 KB) | Supplementary information


Lower edge of locked Main Himalayan Thrust unzipped by the 2015 Gorkha earthquake -pp708 - 711

Jean-Philippe Avouac, Lingsen Meng, Shengji Wei, Teng Wang & Jean-Paul Ampuero


Faults are unlocked by earthquakes. Analysis of seismic data from the 2015 Nepal earthquake shows that only part of the Main Himalayan Thrust fault was unzipped by the quake, leaving much of the fault locked and ready to slip in a future event.

First Paragraph- | Full Text | PDF (1,475 KB) | Supplementary information


Triggered earthquakes suppressed by an evolving stress shadow from a propagating dyke -pp629 - 632

Robert G. Green, Tim Greenfield & Robert S. White


The role of static versus dynamic stresses in earthquake clusters is unclear. Analysis of earthquakes triggered by a dyke intrusion at an Icelandic volcano unambiguously demonstrates that static stresses are important for earthquake clustering.

First Paragraph- | Full Text | PDF (1,228 KB) | Supplementary information


Long-term interaction between mid-ocean ridges and mantle plumes-pp479 - 483

J. M. Whittaker, J. C. Afonso, S. Masterton, R. D. Müller, P. Wessel, S. E. Williams & M. Seton


Tectonic plate and lower-mantle motions are often considered independent. Plate tectonic reconstructions reveal long-lived interactions between mantle plumes and mid-ocean ridges that imply feedback between plate boundaries and the deep mantle.

First Paragraph- | Full Text | PDF (954 KB) | Supplementary information


Earthquake supercycle in subduction zones controlled by the width of the seismogenic zone -pp471 - 474

Robert Herrendörfer, Ylona van Dinther, Taras Gerya & Luis Angel Dalguer


Some subduction zones experience earthquake supercycles. Numerical simulations show that successive megathrust earthquakes may load neighbouring parts of the fault, causing it to eventually fail in a giant earthquake that completes a supercycle.

First Paragraph- | Full Text | PDF (670 KB) | Supplementary information


Low friction and fault weakening revealed by rising sensitivity of tremor to tidal stress -pp409 - 415

Heidi Houston


At subduction zones, deep parts of the fault can slip slowly, generating tremor. Analysis of tremor in Cascadia reveals increasing sensitivity of slip to tidal stresses over several days, implying that the fault is weak, and weakens as it slips.

Abstract- | Full Text | PDF (769 KB) | Supplementary information

See also: News and Views by Bürgmann


Slab melting beneath the Cascade Arc driven by dehydration of altered oceanic peridotite -pp404 - 408

K. J. Walowski, P. J. Wallace, E. H. Hauri, I. Wada & M. A. Clynne


Fluid transport in subduction zones is complex. Geochemical analysis of lavas from the Cascade Arc shows that dehydration of the deep slab interior can trigger melting in the outer part of the subducting slab in young, hot subduction zones.

Abstract- | Full Text | PDF (879 KB) | Supplementary information


Continental crust generated in oceanic arcs -pp321 - 327

Esteban Gazel, Jorden L. Hayes, Kaj Hoernle, Peter Kelemen, Erik Everson, W. Steven Holbrook, Folkmar Hauff, Paul van den Bogaard, Eric A. Vance, Shuyu Chu, Andrew J. Calvert, Michael J. Carr & Gene M. Yogodzinski


The origin of continental crust is unclear. Geochemical and geophysical analyses of the Central American land bridge show that continental crust began to form there when enriched oceanic crust created above the Galápagos plume was subducted.

Abstract- | Full Text | PDF (855 KB) | Supplementary information


Slab stagnation in the shallow lower mantle linked to an increase in mantle viscosity -pp311 - 314

Hauke Marquardt & Lowell Miyagi


Subducting slabs can stagnate in the lower mantle. High-pressure laboratory experiments show that the viscosity of a dominant mantle phase increases dramatically at shallow lower-mantle depths, which could cause the slabs to halt their descent.

First Paragraph- | Full Text | PDF (578 KB) | Supplementary information

See also: News and Views by Cordier


Randomness of megathrust earthquakes implied by rapid stress recovery after the Japan earthquake -pp152 - 158

Thessa Tormann, Bogdan Enescu, Jochen Woessner & Stefan Wiemer


The 2011 Tohoku-oki earthquake released stress within a subduction zone. Analysis of seismic data shows that stresses returned to pre-quake levels within a few years, implying that large quakes could occur more often than previously thought.

Abstract- | Full Text | PDF (1,920 KB) | Supplementary information


Complexity of the deep San Andreas Fault zone defined by cascading tremor -pp145 - 151

David R. Shelly


Seismic tremors can be used to distinguish plate boundaries. Analysis of tremors occurring deep beneath the San Andreas Fault may identify the boundary between the North American Plate and the preserved remnant of a subducted slab.

Abstract- | Full Text  | PDF (2,794 KB) | Supplementary information


Accelerated extension of Tibet linked to the northward underthrusting of Indian crust -pp131 - 134

Richard Styron, Michael Taylor & Kurt Sundell


The Tibetan Plateau is extending. Numerical simulations suggest that regional-scale extension is caused by gravitational collapse of the plateau, whereas rapid extension in the south is caused by underthrusting of the Indian slab.

First Paragraph- | Full Text | PDF (3,078 KB) | Supplementary information


Lower-mantle water reservoir implied by the extreme stability of a hydrous aluminosilicate -pp75 - 79

Martha G. Pamato, Robert Myhill, Tiziana Boffa Ballaran, Daniel J. Frost, Florian Heidelbach & Nobuyoshi Miyajima


Plumes are thought to transport water-rich material from the deep mantle to Earth’s surface. High-pressure experiments identify a hydrous mineral phase that is stable under lower-mantle conditions and could provide a source for this water.

Abstract- | Full Text | PDF (1,086 KB) | Supplementary information

See also: News and Views by Nishi


Ocean rises are products of variable mantle composition, temperature and focused melting -pp68 - 74

Henry J. B. Dick & Huaiyang Zhou


The composition of mid-ocean ridge basalts varies with the properties of the mantle that feeds the ridges. Thermodynamic calculations of melt evolution suggest that most of the mantle melting occurs by an overlooked mechanism, focused melting.

Abstract- | Full Text | PDF (1,303 KB)

October 2014, Volume 7 No 10 pp689-776

Earthquakes: Hydrogeochemical precursors


pp697 - 698

S. E. Ingebritsen & M. Manga


Earthquake prediction is a long-sought goal. Changes in groundwater chemistry before earthquakes in Iceland highlight a potential hydrogeochemical precursor, but such signals must be evaluated in the context of long-term, multiparametric data sets.

Full Text | PDF (628 KB) See also: Letter by Skelton et al.

Changes in groundwater chemistry before two consecutive earthquakes in Iceland


pp752 - 756

Alasdair Skelton, Margareta Andrén, Hrefna Kristmannsdóttir, Gabrielle Stockmann, Carl-Magnus Mörth, Árny Sveinbjörnsdóttir, Sigurjón Jónsson, Erik Sturkell, Helga Rakel Guðrúnardóttir, Hreinn Hjartarson, Heike Siegmund & Ingrid Kockum


Precursor events to earthquakes are rarely reproduced. Measurement of groundwater chemistry in Iceland between 2008 and 2013 reveals distinct changes prior to two consecutive >M5 earthquakes.

First Paragraph | Full Text | PDF (1,835 KB) | Supplementary information

Seismic precursors linked to super-critical fluids at oceanic transform faults


pp757 - 761

Louis Géli, Jean-Michel Piau, Robert Dziak, Vincent Maury, Delphine Fitzenz, Quentin Coutellier & Pierre Henry


Earthquakes on oceanic transform faults are often preceded by foreshock swarms. A theoretical model suggests that circulating hydrothermal fluids, which compress as the fault rocks expand and deform, cause this precursor seismic activity.

First Paragraph | Full Text | PDF (1,318 KB) | Supplementary information

September 2014, Volume 7 No 9 pp613-688

Antarctic icequakes triggered by the 2010 Maule earthquake in Chile


pp677 - 681

Zhigang Peng, Jacob I. Walter, Richard C. Aster, Andrew Nyblade, Douglas A. Wiens & Sridhar Anandakrishnan


Large earthquakes can trigger seismicity in remote regions. Analysis of seismic data from Antarctica reveals ice quakes coincident with passing seismic waves from the 2010 Chile earthquake, suggesting that the ice sheet is sensitive to such triggers.

First Paragraph| Full Text| PDF (1,832 KB)| Supplementary information

River gorge eradication by downstream sweep erosion


pp682 - 686

Kristen L. Cook, Jens M. Turowski & Niels Hovius


Narrow river gorges are often short-lived features. Images of a bedrock gorge in Taiwan, which was carved after 1999, reveal rapid widening where the upstream floodplain meets the gorge, an erosional front that propagates downstream as the gorge is erased.

| Full Text | PDF (3,163 KB) | Supplementary information See also: News and Views by Sklar

August 2014, Volume 7 No 8 pp549-612

Strong tidal heating in an ultralow-viscosity zone at the core–mantle boundary of the Moon


pp569 - 572

Yuji Harada, Sander Goossens, Koji Matsumoto, Jianguo Yan, Jinsong Ping, Hirotomo Noda & Junichi Haruyama


Tidal dissipation in the Moon depends on the lunar tidal period. Numerical modelling of the Moon’s response to tidal forces suggests that tidal dissipation is localized in an ultralow-viscosity zone at the core–mantle boundary.

First Paragraph-| Full Text-| PDF (730 KB)-| Supplementary information

River basin flood potential inferred using GRACE gravity observations at several months lead time


pp588 - 592

J. T. Reager, B. F. Thomas & J. S. Famiglietti


Whether a precipitation event leads to flooding depends on the watershed’s wetness. A case study of the 2011 Missouri River floods demonstrates that the predisposition of a river basin to flooding can be inferred from satellite-based gravity data months in advance.

First Paragraph| Full Text| PDF (776 KB)| Supplementary information

Sandstone landforms shaped by negative feedback between stress and erosion


pp597 - 601

Jiri Bruthans, Jan Soukup, Jana Vaculikova, Michal Filippi, Jana Schweigstillova, Alan L. Mayo, David Masin, Gunther Kletetschka & Jaroslav Rihosek


The formation and preservation of sandstone landforms such as pillars and arches is enigmatic. Experiments and numerical modelling show that load-bearing material weathers more slowly, and thus the internal stress field can shape and stabilize sandstone landforms.

First Paragraph| Full Text| PDF (1,247 KB)| Supplementary information

See also: News and Views by Paola

July 2014, Volume 7 No 7 pp477-547

Rejuvenation of Appalachian topography caused by subsidence-induced differential erosion


pp518 - 523

Lijun Liu


Topographic relief continued to develop in the Appalachian Mountains, eastern USA, long after the tectonic forces that created the range had become inactive. Numerical modelling and reconstructions of sediment deposition in the Gulf of Mexico suggest that the topographic relief was rejuvenated by subsidence-induced differential erosion caused by sinking of the subducted Farallon slab in the underlying mantle.

First Paragraph| Full Text| PDF (2,582 KB)| Supplementary information

Topographic relief driven by variations in surface rock density


pp534 - 540

Jean Braun, Thibaud Simon-Labric, Kendra E. Murray & Peter W. Reiners


The high elevation in Earth’s topography of hard rocks, such as granites and basalts, was thought to be caused by their inherent resistance to erosion. Numerical modelling now demonstrates, counterintuitively, that erosion-induced isostatic rebound of rocks, which is density dependent, causes granites and basalts to occupy high elevations because they are more dense than surrounding rocks.

Abstract| Full Text| PDF (1,482 KB)| Supplementary information

See also: News and Views by Flowers

June 2014, Volume 7 No 6 pp389-E2

Volcanic drumbeat seismicity caused by stick-slip motion and magmatic frictional melting


pp438 - 442

J. E. Kendrick, Y. Lavallée, T. Hirose, G. Di Toro, A. J. Hornby, S. De Angelis & D. B. Dingwell


During volcanic eruptions, solidifying magma ascends through the volcanic conduit, often accompanied by repetitive, drum-beat seismicity. Laboratory experiments on magma samples from Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat, and Mount St Helens Volcano, USA, show that viscous melt formed at the surface between the rising magma and conduit walls can temporarily halt magma ascent, accentuating the cyclical seismicity.

First Paragraph| Full Text| PDF (3,261 KB)| Supplementary information

Changbaishan volcanism in northeast China linked to subduction-induced mantle upwelling


pp470 - 475

Youcai Tang, Masayuki Obayashi, Fenglin Niu, Stephen P. Grand, Yongshun John Chen, Hitoshi Kawakatsu, Satoru Tanaka, Jieyuan Ning & James F. Ni


The Changbaishan volcanic complex in China cannot be easily explained as the consequence of a mantle plume. Seismic images from the region identify buoyant mantle material that may have been entrained and dragged downwards by the subducting Pacific Plate, but is now escaping upwards through a gap in the plate and producing the intraplate volcanism.

Abstract| Full Text| PDF (1,979 KB)| Supplementary information

May 2014, Volume 7 No 5 pp321-388

Eastward expansion of the Tibetan Plateau by crustal flow and strain partitioning across faults


pp361 - 365

Qi Yuan Liu, Robert D. van der Hilst, Yu Li, Hua Jian Yao, Jiu Hui Chen, Biao Guo, Shao Hua Qi, Jun Wang, Hui Huang & Shun Cheng Li


The Tibetan Plateau is expanding eastwards, but the modes of deformation are poorly understood. High-resolution seismic images from the region identify localized zones of weak crustal rocks as well as deep faults, implying that deformation occurs through a combination of crustal flow and movement of rigid blocks of crust.

First Paragraph| Full Text| PDF (1,586 KB)| Supplementary information

Seismological evidence of mantle flow driving plate motions at a palaeo-spreading centre


pp371 - 375

Shuichi Kodaira, Gou Fujie, Mikiya Yamashita, Takeshi Sato, Tsutomu Takahashi & Narumi Takahashi


At oceanic spreading centres, it is unclear whether plate motions drag the underlying mantle, or mantle flow pulls the overlying plates. Seismic imaging of a former speading centre in the Pacific Plate reveals strong seismic anisotropy that was generated by mantle flowing at speeds greater than plate motions, implying that mantle flow pulled this part of the plate.

First Paragraph| Full Text| PDF (2,436 KB)| Supplementary information

April 2014, Volume 7 No 4 pp245-320

Motion of continental slivers and creeping subduction in the northern Andes


pp287 - 291

J-M. Nocquet, J. C. Villegas-Lanza, M. Chlieh, P. A. Mothes, F. Rolandone, P. Jarrin, D. Cisneros, A. Alvarado, L. Audin, F. Bondoux, X. Martin, Y. Font, M. Régnier, M. Vallée, T. Tran, C. Beauval, J. M. Maguiña Mendoza, W. Martinez, H. Tavera & H. Yepes


Regions of intense continental deformation, termed continental slivers, have been identified in Chile, Bolivia and Ecuador. Analyses of GPS data now identify another large sliver in Peru, the Inca Sliver, that is moving away from a neighbouring sliver in Ecuador—implying that moving continental slivers control the deformation of almost the entire Andean mountain range.

First Paragraph| Full Text| PDF (2,326 KB)| Supplementary information

Locking of the Chile subduction zone controlled by fluid pressure before the 2010 earthquake


pp292 - 296

Marcos Moreno, Christian Haberland, Onno Oncken, Andreas Rietbrock, Samuel Angiboust & Oliver Heidbach


Large subduction-zone earthquakes are thought to occur where the down-going and overriding tectonic plates are strongly locked. Analysis of geodetic and seismic data collected in the decade before the 2010 Chile earthquake shows that variations in pore-fluid pressure correlate with the degree of plate-interface locking, and may therefore control earthquake rupture.

First Paragraph| Full Text| PDF (1,327 KB)| Supplementary information

Off-rift volcanism in rift zones determined by crustal unloading


pp297 - 300

Francesco Maccaferri, Eleonora Rivalta, Derek Keir & Valerio Acocella


As continents are stretched apart, deep rift valleys form and volcanoes can erupt both inside and outside of the valley. Numerical modelling suggests that gravitational unloading, caused by thinning of the stretched crust, can deflect rising magma towards the edges of the rift valley, causing off-rift eruptions.

First Paragraph| Full Text| PDF (1,341 KB)| Supplementary information

February 2014, Volume 7 No 2 pp77-156

Nicoya earthquake rupture anticipated by geodetic measurement of the locked plate interface


pp117 - 121

Marino Protti, Victor González, Andrew V. Newman, Timothy H. Dixon, Susan Y. Schwartz, Jeffrey S. Marshall, Lujia Feng, Jacob I. Walter, Rocco Malservisi & Susan E. Owen


Part of the subduction zone plate interface beneath Costa Rica was previously locked, which allowed strain to accumulate. Analyses using GPS and geomorphic data show that almost the entire locked region ruptured during a megathrust quake in 2012, implying that plate-interface mapping towards the end of the earthquake cycle can aid seismic hazard assessments.

First Paragraph| Full Text| PDF (1,614 KB)| Supplementary information

Mapping the mass distribution of Earth’s mantle using satellite-derived gravity gradients


pp131 - 135

Isabelle Panet, Gwendoline Pajot-Métivier, Marianne Greff-Lefftz, Laurent Métivier, Michel Diament & Mioara Mandea


The dynamics of Earth’s mantle are difficult to constrain. Analysis of GOCE satellite gravity data can be used to identify gravity anomalies to mid-mantle depths and hence to identify regions of tectonic-plate subduction and plume upwelling in the mantle.

First Paragraph| Full Text| PDF (5,025 KB)| Supplementary information

Mantle flow and multistage melting beneath the Galápagos hotspot revealed by seismic imaging


pp151 - 156

Darwin R. Villagómez, Douglas R. Toomey, Dennis J. Geist, Emilie E. E. Hooft & Sean C. Solomon


Upwelling mantle plumes are thought to be sheared by the motions of the overlying tectonic plates. Seismic imaging of a hotspot beneath the Galápagos Islands, however, identifies a plume that is not deflected in the direction of plate motion and whose characteristics are instead controlled by multistage melting processes.

Abstract| Full Text| PDF (1,058 KB)| Supplementary information







September 2013, Volume 6 No 9 pp673-800

The proportionality between relative plate velocity and seismicity in subduction zones


pp780 - 784

Satoshi Ide


The magnitude and rate of seismicity differ between subduction zones. Calculations of background seismicity rates, based on a global model of subduction zone seismicity, reveal a positive correlation between relative plate velocity and background seismicity, yet only the seismically quieter zones seem capable of generating magnitude 9 earthquakes.

First Paragraph


| Full Text | PDF (2,383 KB)| Supplementary information

Structure of orogenic belts controlled by lithosphere age


pp785 - 789

Frédéric Mouthereau, Anthony B. Watts & Evgueni Burov


The influence of inherited tectonic-plate strength on the structure of mountain belts is debated. Analysis of geological data collected from mountain belts worldwide shows that the style and amount of deformation in a mountain range are strongly influenced by the age and strength of the colliding plates.

First Paragraph


| Full Text | PDF (491 KB)| Supplementary information

August 2013, Volume 6 No 8 pp585-672

Focus: Shaken-crust

Subsidence at southern Andes volcanoes induced by the 2010 Maule, Chile earthquake


pp632 - 636

M. E. Pritchard, J. A. Jay, F. Aron, S. T. Henderson & L. E. Lara


Large earthquakes in subduction zones can affect nearby volcanoes. Analysis of ground deformation following the 2010 earthquake in Maule, Chile, shows that some volcanoes subsided by up to 15cm, probably because of quake-triggered release of hydrothermal fluids.

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See also: Letter by Takada & Fukushima | News and Views by Jónsson

Focus: Shaken-crust

Volcanic subsidence triggered by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake in Japan


pp637 - 641

Youichiro Takada & Yo Fukushima


The 2011 Tohoku earthquake caused high levels of crustal deformation in Japan. Analysis of satellite radar and GPS data show that the earthquake caused nearby volcanic regions to subside instantaneously, creating elliptical depressions that are parallel to the direction of quake-induced crustal extension.

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See also: Letter by Pritchard et al. | News and Views by Jónsson

Focus: Shaken-crust

Lusi mud eruption triggered by geometric focusing of seismic waves


pp642 - 646

M. Lupi, E. H. Saenger, F. Fuchs & S. A. Miller


The Lusi mud eruption in Indonesia has been ongoing since 2006. Numerical simulations show that a parabolic-shaped layer in the rock surrounding the site of the Lusi eruption could have amplified and focussed incoming seismic energy from an earthquake, which then triggered the mud eruption.

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See also: News and Views by Davis

Frictional-faulting model for harmonic tremor before Redoubt Volcano eruptions


pp652 - 656

Ksenia Dmitrieva, Alicia J. Hotovec-Ellis, Stephanie Prejean & Eric M. Dunham


Volcanic tremor can be caused by small earthquakes occurring within the volcano. Mechanical modelling of volcanic tremor generated at Redoubt Volcano, Alaska, suggests that high-frequency tremor is the result of stick–slip motion in faults within the volcano conduit.

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July 2013, Volume 6 No 7 pp505-584

Barbados-based estimate of ice volume at Last Glacial Maximum affected by subducted plate


pp553 - 557

Jacqueline Austermann, Jerry X. Mitrovica, Konstantin Latychev & Glenn A. Milne


Coral records from the Barbados have been used to infer that, due to ice expansion, sea level was 120m lower than today during the Last Glacial Maximum. A 3D simulation of the mantle in this region suggests these estimates were biased by the presence of a subducted slab, and indicates the sea-level difference was closer to 130 m.

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Episodic fault creep events in California controlled by shallow frictional heterogeneity


pp566 - 570

Meng Wei, Yoshihiro Kaneko, Yajing Liu & Jeffrey J. McGuire


Stable fault slip, or creep, is thought to occur in unconsolidated sediments that form shallow parts of continental strike-slip faults. Numerical simulations show that creep events observed on faults in California also require the presence of a shallow, unstable layer of rock, the thickness of which influences the duration of the creep event.

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June 2013, Volume 6 No 6 pp413-503

Andean structural control on interseismic coupling in the North Chile subduction zone


pp462 - 467

Marta Béjar-Pizarro, Anne Socquet, Rolando Armijo, Daniel Carrizo, Jeff Genrich & Mark Simons


Ridges on the down-going plate in a subduction zone can segment the seismogenic zone and influence earthquake occurrence, but the role of the overriding plate is unclear. InSAR and GPS satellite measurements indicate that segmentation of the subduction zone in northern Chile correlates with a 1-km-high coastal scarp, implying that overriding plate structure can influence seismicity.

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Subject terms: Seismology | Structural geology, tectonics and geodynamics

Slip weakening as a mechanism for slow earthquakes


pp468 - 472

Matt J. Ikari, Chris Marone, Demian M. Saffer & Achim J. Kopf


Slow earthquakes form part of a spectrum of fault behaviour between steady creep and fast rupture during a normal earthquake. Laboratory simulations of slow slip in rock samples taken from the Nankai subduction zone, Japan, reveal similar characteristics to fast earthquakes, implying that some slow slip events could be prematurely arrested earthquakes.

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Permanent deformation caused by subduction earthquakes in northern Chile


pp492 - 496

A. Baker, R. W. Allmendinger, L. A. Owen & J. A. Rech


Earth’s crust is thought to eventually rebound following an earthquake so that deformation is not permanent. Field analysis in the Atacama Desert, northern Chile, however, identifies numerous large cracks in the crust, implying that the crust here has been permanently deformed by thousands of earthquakes that have occurred over the past million years.



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Subject terms: Structural geology, tectonics and geodynamics | Seismology

Nature Geoscience

Recent extensional tectonics on the Moon revealed by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (ngeo1387)
Watters et al.

Stick-slip advance of the Kohat Plateau in Pakistan (ngeo1373)
Satyabala et al.

Anisotropic uppermost mantle in young subducted slab underplating Central Mexico (ngeo1342)
Song and Kim

Modern-style plate subduction preserved in the Paleoproterozoic West African craton (ngeo1321)
Ganne et al.

Tibetan plate overriding the Asian plate in central and northern Tibet (ngeo1309)
Zhao et al.

December Issue focus on Ocean Islands - plumes, hot spots, deep mantle (ngeo1328, ngeo1331, ngeo1263, ngeo1295)

Increased capture of magma in the crust promoted by ice-cap retreat in Iceland (ngeo1269)
Hooper et al.

Superficial simplicity of the 2010 El Mayor-Cucapah earthquake of Baja California in Mexico (ngeo1213)
Wei et al.

A continuum of stress, strength and slip in the Cascadia subduction zone (ngeo1215)
Wech and Creager

Rupture of deep faults in the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake and uplift of the Longmen Shan (ngeo1210)
Qi et al.

Loading of the San Andreas fault by flood-induced rupture of faults beneath the Salton Sea (ngeo1184)
Brothers et al.

Updip rupture of the 2004 Sumatra earthquake extended by thick indurated sediments (ngeo1176)
Gulick et al.

Orogenic-wedge deformation and potential for great earthquakes in the central Andean backarc (ngeo1143)
Brooks et al.

Triggered creep as a possible mechanism for delayed dynamic triggering of tremor and earthquakes (ngeo1141)
Shelly et al.

Characteristic slip for five great earthquakes along the Fuyun fault in China (ngeo1158)
Klinger et al.

Rapid tremor reversals in Cascadia generated by a weakened plate interface (ngeo1157)
Houston et al. (including Brent!)

Absence of remotely triggered large earthquakes beyond the mainshock region (ngeo1110)
Parsons and Velasco

Magnetotelluric image of the fluid cycle in the Costa Rican subduction zone (ngeo1041)
Worzewski et al.

Dominant role of tectonic inheritance in supercontinent cycles (ngeo1080)
Audet and Burgmann.

Limited overlap between the seismic gap and coseismic slip of the great 2010 Chile earthquake (ngeo1073)
Lorito et al..

Complex and variable crustal and uppermost mantle seismic anisotropy in the western United States (ngeo1036)
Lin et al.

Miocene drainage reversal of the Amazon River driven by plate-mantle interaction (ngeo1017)
Shephard et al.

The many surface expressions of mantle dynamics (ngeo1020)

Localized damage caused by topographic amplification during the 2010 M 7.0 Haiti earthquake (ngeo988)
Hough et al.

High tsunami frequency as a result of combined strike-slip faulting and coastal landslides (ngeo975)
Hornbach et al.

Seismic hazard of the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault in Haiti inferred from paleoseismology (ngeo991)
Prentice et al.

Transpressional rupture of an unmapped fault during the 2010 Haiti earthquake (ngeo992)
Calais et al.

Complex rupture during the 12 January 2010 Haiti earthquake (ngeo977)
Hayes et al.

India-Asia convergence driven by the subduction of the Greater Indian continent (ngeo725)
Capitanio et al.

Slip-rate variability and distributed deformation in the Marmara Sea fault system (ngeo739)
Hergert & Heidbach

Towards absolute plate motions constrained by lower-mantle slab remnants (ngeo708)
van der Meer et al.

Distribution of melt beneath Mount St Helens and Mount Adams inferred from magnetotelluric data (ngeo703)
Hill et al.

Deep creep as a cause for the excess seismicity along the San Jacinto fault (ngeo684)

Rock pulverization at high strain rate near the San Andreas fault (27 September 2009)
Doan and Gary

Slip maxima at fault junctions and rupturing of barriers during the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake (27 September 2009)
Shen et al.

Frictional resistance of faults during accelerating and decelerating earthquake slip (20 September 2009)
Sone and Shimamoto

Virtual seismometers in the subsurface of the Earth from seismic interferometry (30 August 2009)
Curtis et al.

Tectonic evolution of the Salton Sea inferred from seismic reflection data (26 July 2009)
Brothers et al.

Vertical mantle flow associated with a lithospheric drip beneath the Great Basin (24 May 2009)
West et al.

Volcanism in the Solar System (17 May 2009)
Wilson, L.

Intense localized rock uplift and erosion in the St. Elias orogen of Alaska (26 April 2009)
Enkelmann et al.