In situ stress magnitudes at the toe of the Nankai Trough Accretionary Prism, offshore Shikoku Island, Japan

K. A. Huffman, D. M. Saffer

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22 Scopus citations


Quantifying the orientation and magnitude of tectonic stresses is essential toward understanding deformation and faulting in subduction zones. However, constraints on in situ horizontal stress magnitudes (Shmin and SHmax) are rare. We estimate Shmin and SHmax at Ocean Drilling Program Site 808 at the toe of the Nankai accretionary prism offshore Japan, using coupled constraints from (1) the width of wellbore breakouts together with estimates of rock strength and a model describing stress redistribution at the borehole wall and (2) limits on regional differential stress defined by failure on preexisting faults. Our analysis extends from 175 to 915 m below seafloor (mbsf) and spans the active frontal thrust. For an upper bound on rock unconfined compressive strength (UCS) and assuming hydrostatic formation pore pressure, Shmin and SHmax (referenced to the seafloor) increase from 6.5 MPa at 175 mbsf to 17.4 MPa at 915 mbsf, with the stress state gradually transitioning from a thrust or strike-slip faulting regime above 800 mbsf to a normal faulting regime below. For cases with higher formation pore pressure, horizontal stresses are slightly lower but follow a similar pattern. We show that estimated Shmin and SHmax are strongly dependent on UCS, breakout width, and friction coefficient, all of which are characterized by uncertainty. Our results suggest that the prism is near thrust failure in the upper ~300 mbsf, but far from failure below. This may be reconciled with active thrusting if thrust faults are locally weaker than the surrounding rock or if SHmax fluctuates during the seismic cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1202-1217
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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