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Nature Communications


Significant along-strike variations of seismicity are observed at subduction zones, which are strongly influenced by physical properties of the plate interface and rheology of the crust and mantle lithosphere. However, the role of the oceanic side of the plate boundary on seismicity is poorly understood due to the lack of offshore instrumentations. Here tomographic results of the Cascadia subduction system, resolved with full-wave ambient noise simulation and inversion by integrating dense offshore and onshore seismic datasets, show significant variations of the oceanic lithosphere along strike and down dip from spreading centers to subduction. In central Cascadia, where seismicity is sparse, the slab is imaged as a large-scale low-velocity feature near the trench, which is attributed to a highly hydrated and strained oceanic lithosphere underlain by a layer of melts or fluids. The strong correlation suggests that the properties of the incoming oceanic plate play a significant role on seismicity.





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