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Underwater Volcano Riding a Sinking Tectonic Plate Sparks Major Earthquakes in Japan

By: April Carson

In the depths of the Pacific Ocean, off the east coast of Japan, a silent and ancient force has been stirring beneath the waves. A newly published study sheds light on the intriguing connection between an extinct underwater volcano, the Daiichi-Kashima seamount, and a sinking tectonic plate, suggesting that their interaction might be the source of several unexplained major earthquakes in the region.

The Enigmatic Daiichi-Kashima Seamount:

Situated roughly 25 miles off Japan's east coast, the Daiichi-Kashima seamount rests on the Pacific tectonic plate. This region is a complex convergence point where three tectonic plates meet — the Pacific plate to the east, the Philippine plate to the south, and the Okhotsk plate to the north. The seamount occupies a section of the Pacific plate that began its descent into Earth's mantle between 150,000 and 250,000 years ago.

Associate professor Eunseo Choi from the University of Memphis' Center for Earthquake Research and Information describes the Daiichi-Kashima seamount as a geological time capsule, a relic from the past that has retained its ability to influence the present.

The Tectonic Dance:

As the Pacific plate subducts beneath the Okhotsk plate, the Daiichi-Kashima seamount enters the stage of this tectonic dance. Despite being considered extinct, the seamount is positioned less than 31 miles (50 km) deep, making it a significant player in the intricate geological interactions.

Lead author Sungho Lee, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Memphis, explains that when a tectonic plate slips or subducts beneath another, the seamounts on its surface create friction as they scrape against the bottom of the overriding plate. Surprisingly, previous studies suggested that this friction was too weak to induce significant seismic activity, causing only minor tremors.

Unexplained Earthquakes:

However, the Daiichi-Kashima seamount seems to defy these expectations. While the majority of seismic activities around the seamount manifest as small tremors, there have been several unexplained earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 7 to 7.8. Notable events occurred in 1982 (magnitude 7), 2008 (magnitude 7), and 2011 (magnitude 7.8).

These earthquakes have puzzled researchers for years, as the conventional understanding of seamount interactions failed to account for such intense seismic events. Sungho Lee emphasizes that the 2008 study's conclusions, suggesting weak friction incapable of triggering significant earthquakes, no longer hold true in light of this new research.

The Daiichi-Kashima seamount, an ancient underwater volcano riding a sinking tectonic plate, challenges our understanding of seismic activity in the deep ocean. This revelation opens new avenues for research, encouraging scientists to revisit existing theories and explore the dynamic interactions between tectonic plates and seamounts.

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About the Blogger:

April Carson is a remarkable individual whose life has been shaped by her determination, dedication, and unwavering passion for both education and sports. Born as the daughter of Billy Carson, she embarked on a journey that would lead her to outstanding achievements and a profound impact on her community.

April's academic journey commenced at Jacksonville University, where she pursued her love for the Social Sciences. She quickly distinguished herself as a diligent student, displaying an insatiable curiosity for understanding the world around her. Her commitment to her studies was matched only by her desire to make a difference in her chosen field.

While her academic pursuits were certainly impressive, it was April's involvement in sports that truly set her apart. She was not just a student at Jacksonville University; she was also a vital member of the Women's Basketball team. On the court, April's dedication and talent were evident for all to see. She exhibited leadership, teamwork, and a relentless drive to excel, qualities that would become hallmarks of her personality both on and off the court.

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