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The imaging of a multichannel seismic record was improved by reprocessing using pre-stack techniques. The reprocessed record shows structures that indicate tectonic erosion and gravity collapse at the front of the Japan Trench margin. Much of the lower slope appears to be underlain by a detached, coherent block of continental crust. The lower slope has failed by mass wasting and the resulting apron of slump debris at the base of the slope has become involved in thrust faulting at the front of the subduction zone. Slumping continues as long as debris is removed from the front of the margin by subduction, and the apron cannot build up sufficiently to stabilize the failing lower slope. Truncated beds at the base of the upper plate indicate subcrustal erosion as well, this probably being the main cause of massive subsidence of the margin. Subsidence was the cause of oversteepening, destabilization and subsequent gravity collapse of the leading edge of the upper plate. ?? 1989.
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Tectonic erosion at the front of the Japan Trench convergent margin