Effects of metamorphic crustal densification on earthquake size in warm slabs

Kelin Wang, John F. Cassidy, Ikuko Wada, Alex J. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Some recent damaging earthquakes occurred in the lower crust or mantle of warm subducting slabs. They are consistent with a theoretical prediction that larger events tend to be deeper inside the slab as a result of mechanical damage to the crust caused by metamorphic rock densification. The densification begins in a thin layer along the slab surface, inducing a stretching force in it. Fracture spacing scales with layer thickness, resulting in a "shattered" upper crust in which earthquake ruptures have limited propagation distance. In contrast, the more uniform untransformed substrata can host larger ruptures. Often, the lack of compression in warm-slab mantle is also consistent with a shattered crust.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L01605 1-4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 16 2004


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