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What is the Seismogenic Zone Experiment?

Most of the world’s great earthquakes occur in subduction zones. Although plate tectonics provides the underlying explanation, only a small portion of the plate contact generates earthquakes; this portion is the Seismogenic Zone Initiative (SEIZE). The seismogenic zone provides both fundamental scientific challenges and is of great societal relevance. SEIZE will address the following questions:

  1. What is the nature of strong, locked parts of seismogenic zones?
  2. What are the temporal relationships among stress, strain, and fluid composition throughout the earthquake cycle?
  3. What controls the up- and down-dip limits of the seismogenic zone?
  4. What is the nature of tsunamigenic earthquake zone?
  5. What is the role of large thrust earthquakes in mass flux of material in the subduction system?

The Central American and Nankai Trough (Japan) areas were selected for focussed study by the geoscientific community during a workshop in 1997 (see the SEIZE science plan for selection procedure and criteria).

Chile earthquake, February 2010: NSF-IRIS rapid response

SEIZE Nuggets from 2009 Review Documents: Nuggets are available online!

SEIZE web pages:

Focus Areas: Central America
Costa Rica-Nicaragua Focus Area Map
Nankai Trough
  Nankai Focus Area Map
Meetings: MARGINS-EarthScope Cascadia Amphibious Facility Planning Group, Palisades, NY, 2009
  The Next Decade of The Seismogenic Zone Experiment. Mt. Hood, Oregon, 2008
  Subduction Factory and Seismogenic Zone Studies in Central America. Costa Rica, 2007
Meeting pages contain abstracts, bibliographies, presentations, lecture notes and much more information. Mini-Workshop at AGU 2006 - "Seismogenesis and Subduction Fluxes in the Middle America Subduction Zone: The role of IODP and ORION"
SEIZE 2003 Theoretical Institute
NanTroSEIZE Workshop 2002
Seismogenic Zone Experiment (SEIZE) workshop, Hawaii 1997
Documents: SEIZE Science Plan
NSF-funded SEIZE awards
Cascadia Amphibious Facility Planning Group report (July, 2009)
  Nankai Trough Seismogenic Zone Drilling and Observatory - IODP Proposal (October 2001)
  Scientific Proceedings from ODP legs 190 and 196
Graphics: MARGINS Presentation materials
Earthquake maps and cross-sections
Nankai figures
Links: Don Reed's Virtual Voyage (Nantro-Seize in 3D)
  University of Miami, RSMAS Geodesy Lab
  TUCAN Imaging Proposal - Boston University
  A 3-D Seismic Investigation in the Nankai Trough: US-Japan Collaborative Program
  Improving Geophysical Observations in Cascadia
  Chile earthquake, February 2010: NSF-IRIS rapid response

Please feel free to suggest additions to these pages!
E-mail suggestions to the MARGINS Office.


MARGINS is an NSF funded program

The MARGINS Office is Hosted by Columbia University

Last updated Monday, April 5, 2010