Earthquakes (1963 to 1983) of magnitude 5.0 to 6.5 form a rim of high seismic activity around a central region of relative seismic quiescence that coincides with the Shumagin seismic gap. This pattern, which can be inferred both from local network and teleseismic earthquake locations, shows high activity near the eastern and western ends of the seismic gap and along the down-dip end of the main thrust zone. The rim of seismicity surrounding an area of seismic quiescence may reflect strong couplign along the elastic-brittle part of the plate boundary where the great earthquakes occur. The temporal behavior of the microseismicity recorded by the Shumagin network is characterized by a burst of activity in 1978 and 1979, and a low or average level of activity from 1980 to January 1983. The increased microearthquake activity during 1978-1979 is located mainly near the down-dip end of the main thrust zone and along the Benioff zone down to 100 to 200 km depth. Composite fault plane solutions of earthquakes occurring in 1978-1979 show down-dip tension between 50 to 120 km depth in the upper plane of the Benioff zone. Composite fault plane solutions of 1981 earthquakes, however, indicate in-plate compression in the same region. Hence, the rate of occurrence and focal mechanisms of microearthquakes located in the Benioff zone below the main thrust both show coincident temporal and spatial variations that may reflect fluctuations in local stresses.