GEOPHYSICS: Slow slip near the trench at the Hikurangi subduction zone, New Zealand

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Abstract

The range of fault slip behaviors near the trench at subduction plate boundaries is critical to know, as this is where the world's largest, most damaging tsunamis are generated. Our knowledge of these behaviors has remained largely incomplete, partially due to the challenging nature of crustal deformation measurements at offshore plate boundaries. Here we present detailed seafloor deformation observations made during an offshore slow-slip event (SSE) in September and October 2014, using a network of absolute pressure gauges deployed at the Hikurangi subduction margin offshore New Zealand. These data show the distribution of vertical seafloor deformation during the SSE and reveal direct evidence for SSEs occurring close to the trench (within 2 kilometers of the seafloor), where very low temperatures and pressures exist.

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