Poster of the Sea of Okhotsk Earthquake of 17 November 2002 - Magnitude 7.3

Tectonic Summary

This earthquake occurred beneath the Sea of Okhotsk between the Russian Federation island of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. Seismicity in this region results from the convergence of the Pacific plate and the North American plate. The Pacific plate is subducting beneath the North American plate at a rate of about 80 mm per year. The region near the epicenter contains several significant tectonic features including the Kuril Trench and the parallel Kuril island arc containing numerous volcanoes. The Kuril Trench marks the surface contact of the Pacific plate and the overriding North American plate.

Subduction zones produce numerous earthquakes from multiple sources. Shallow earthquakes occur within the crust of the overriding plate between the trench and the volcanic arc at the interface between the plates. Deeper earthquakes occur mostly within the subducting plate . Given the earthquake's fault mechanism and depth, it likely results from internal deformation of the Pacific plate as it descends into the mantle (see Depth Profile A - A' panel).

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