The Miyagi-Oki earthquake of 12 June 1978, a large (Ms 7.8) interplate thrust event, occurred in a region which had not experienced earthquakes of magnitude greater than 7 since 1938. A sequence of four moderate-sized (5.4 < mb < 6.1) earthquakes encircled the rupture zone of the Miyagi-Oki earthquake over a period of 2 yr before the main shock. Broadband displacement and velocity records of body waves recorded digitally by stations of the Global Digital Seismograph Network are analyzed to determine the static and dynamic characteristics of the sequence. These characteristics include moment, radiated energy, dynamic and static stress drop, and apparent stress. Inversions of duration measurements made on the velocity waveforms permit quantifying the complexity of an event as well as constraining its rupture geometry.
Intervals of 7 to 8 months separated the first three events; the main shock occurred 4 months after the third event. The rupture process of the third event was relatively complex; the event also had a substantially higher dynamic stress drop (175 bars) than did the stress drops of the first two events (9 and 10 bars, respectively). These observations suggest that the third event was an interme-diate-term precursor to the main shock. The fourth event, a short-term precursor to the main shock, occurred about 8 min before the main shock. Its dynamic stress drop (20 bars) was lower than that of the third event but higher than that of the first two events.