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Inelastic strain rate in the seismogenic layer of Kyushu Island, Japan

Seismic activity is associated with crustal stress relaxation, creating inelastic strain in a medium due to faulting. Inelastic strain affects the stress field around a weak body and causes stress concentration around the body, because the body itself has already released stress. Therefore, the understanding of inelastic deformation is important as it generates earthquakes. We investigated average inelastic strain in a spatial bin of Kyushu Island, Japan, and obtained the inelastic strain rate distribution associated with crustal earthquakes, based on the analysis of fault plane solutions and seismic moments. Large inelastic strains (>10 −7  year −1 ) were found in the Beppu–Shimabara area, located in the center of Kyushu Island. The strain rate tensor was similar to that of the stress tensor except the absolute value in the area, implying that the inelastic strain was controlled by the stress field. The 2016 Kumamoto earthquake sequence (maximum magnitude 7.3) occurred in the Beppu–Shimabara area, with the major earthquakes located around the high inelastic strain rate area. Inelastic strain in the volume released the stress. In addition, the inelastic strain created an increment of stress around the volume. This indicates that the spatial heterogeneity of inelastic strain might concentrate stress.Graphical abstractInelastic strain rate in the seismogenic layer of Kyushu Island, Japan.

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