Dehydration and earthquakes in the subducting slab: Empirical link in intermediate and deep seismic zones

Soichi Omori, Tetsuya Komabayashi, Shigenori Maruyama

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105 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, a close link between the depth-distribution of subduction-zone earthquakes and dehydration events in the hydrated slab-peridotite is established. A phase diagram up to 27 GPa in the MgO-Al2O3-SiO2-H2O (MASH) system was constructed using a combination of thermodynamic calculation and Schreinemakers analysis on previous experimental data. At intermediate-depths (<250 km), dehydration of antigorite, talc, brucite, clinochlore, and Mg-sursassite occur. In the 200-500 km depth-range, dehydrations of Mg-sursassite and brucite+phase D are possible. Dehydration of brucite and dense hydrous Mg-silicates (phase E, D and superhydrous phase B) occurs in the mantle-transition zone. Since conditions for dehydration are dependent on slab temperature, we constructed diagrams illustrating the distribution patterns of dehydration events at several model slab-temperatures. In parallel to the mineralogical study, the depth-distribution of global subduction-zone earthquakes are compiled into a thermal parameter-depth diagram and compared with the dehydration event distributions determined previously. The distribution of dehydration events and earthquakes are comparable in terms of: (1) non-linear correlation between the maximum depth of earthquake and temperature of the slab, (2) an aseismic zone at 300-600 km depth in medium- T subduction zones, and (3) lack of deep-earthquakes in young subduction-zones. Considering those links, we propose an extended dehydration-induced earthquake (EDIE) hypothesis that considers any dehydration event has a potential to induce earthquakes in the subducting slab peridotite.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-311
Number of pages15
JournalPhysics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 16 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Deep focus earthquake
  • Dehydration
  • Earthquake
  • Phase relation
  • Subduction-zone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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