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Expedition 343/343T summary1

Expedition 343/343T Scientists2


The main science goal of the Japan Trench Fast Drilling Project (JFAST) is to understand the physical mechanisms and dynamics of large slip earthquakes, which is fundamental to understanding the huge tsunami that caused extensive damage during the 2011 Tohoku-oki earthquake. Specifically, the level of frictional stress during the earthquake rupture and the physical characteristics of the fault zone are investigated through drilling. The objectives of JFAST include locating the fault that ruptured during the Tohoku-oki event using logging while drilling (LWD); characterizing the composition, architecture, and fundamental mechanisms of dynamic frictional slip and healing processes along the fault by taking core samples; and estimating the frictional heat and stress within and around the fault zone by placing a temperature measurement observatory across the fault.

During the main JFAST expedition (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program [IODP] Expedition 343 in April and May 2012), LWD was completed in a borehole drilled to 850.5 meters below seafloor (mbsf) (total depth [TD] = 7740 meters below sea level [mbsl]), and a coring hole was drilled to 844.5 mbsf (TD = 7734 mbsl) to acquire 21 cores that spanned the two main fault targets. Because of delays associated with severe weather and technical challenges of operating in great water depths, installation of the observatory for temperature and pressure measurements was not completed during the main expedition. However, temperature sensors were successfully deployed during a short technical extension of JFAST, IODP Expedition 343T, in July 2012.

Principal results of Expedition 343/343T include the following:

  1. The overall structure at the drill site consists of a prism of faulted and folded clayey to silty mudstones above and in fault contact (at ~820 mbsf) with a largely undeformed, relatively thin sequence of hemipelagic and pelagic sediments that were deposited on top of the incoming Pacific plate. The primary constituents of the mudstones that make up the prism are terrigenous silt and clay, vitric ash, and biogenic silica. The fault contact, interpreted as the plate boundary décollement, is defined by a subhorizontal, <5 m thick zone of highly sheared clay that displays penetrative scaly fabric and localized slip surfaces.

  2. Faults and bedding are variable in dip magnitude, but faults and bedding at all depths in the prism show a preferred northeast strike direction reflecting horizontal contraction and local extension (at shallower depths) approximately parallel to the plate convergence direction.

  3. Borehole breakouts are evident in image logs from the LWD hole and indicate several different in situ stress domains along the borehole. At shallow depths (from <200 to ~500 mbsf), the maximum horizontal compressive stress (SHmax) is variable and shows a complicated pattern. At deeper levels in the prism (537–820 mbsf), SHmax displays a single preferred orientation ~20° clockwise from the plate convergence direction.

  4. Fault slip during the 2011 event and other past earthquakes likely occurred on the plate boundary décollement. However, slip on other faults cutting the prism could have also occurred during the Tohoku-oki event. One possible location of recent fault slip is identified at ~700 mbsf on the basis of a local H2, methane, and chlorinity anomaly. Several core samples from a fractured and brecciated zone at ~720 mbsf contain faults, the largest of which is a high-angle reverse fault that occurs at the same depth as a low-resistivity feature identified in image logs. The fault at ~720 mbsf and the décollement at ~820 mbsf are the two primary targets for the temperature measurement observatory.

  5. Successful recovery of ~1 m of highly sheared clay from the plate boundary décollement and of the neighboring sediments provide material for mechanical and physical properties testing, as well as for geochemical, mineralogical, and microstructural analyses. Four special interest structural whole-round samples taken from the sheared clay of the décollement, as well as three other structural whole rounds capturing secondary faults, will provide material for coordinated nondestructive and destructive investigations of structure, chemistry, and mineralogy of the faulted sediments.

  6. An observatory consisting of 55 temperature sensors and autonomous data loggers was successfully installed across the two fault targets. These instruments are monitoring temperature distribution across the lower portion of the borehole to estimate the amount of frictional heat dissipated along the slip zone of the Tohoku-oki earthquake in order to estimate the level of dynamic frictional strength during the earthquake. The temperature data loggers are scheduled to be retrieved in February 2013.

1 Expedition 343/343T Scientists, 2013. Expedition 343/343T summary. In Chester, F.M., Mori, J., Eguchi, N., Toczko, S., and the Expedition 343/343T Scientists, Proc. IODP, 343/343T: Tokyo (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Management International, Inc.). doi:10.2204/iodp.proc.343343T.101.2013

2Expedition 343/343T Scientists’ addresses.

Publication: 19 July 2013
MS 343343T-101