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(MSNBC)-‘Very low-frequency’ tremors may build up to catastrophic quakes
WASHINGTON - Japanese researchers have discovered a new and sluggish kind of seismic activity that helps reveal the inner workings of faults capable of producing massive earthquakes like the one that generated the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
The so-called “very low-frequency” earthquakes join two other types of slow quakes previously detected in the deep portion of subduction zones, where one section of Earth’s crust dives under another. The new kind of seismic activity can itself produce earthquakes of magnitudes 3 to 3.5, but the temblors are too slow to produce shaking felt by humans.
Researcher Yoshihiro Ito said the newfound activity, along with the two other phenomena — non-volcanic deep tremors and slow slip — may contribute to the buildup of stress in what are known as megathrust quake rupture zones.