Data obtained by GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) have been used to invert for the seismic source parameters of megathrust earthquakes under the assumption of either uniform slip over an entire fault or a point-like seismic source. Herein, we further extend the inversion of GRACE long-wavelength gravity changes to heterogeneous slip distributions during the 2011 Tohoku earthquake using three fault models: (I) a constant-strike and constant-dip fault, (II) a variable dip fault, and (III) a realistically varying strike fault. By removing the post-seismic signal from the time series, and taking the effect of ocean water redistribution into account, we invert for slip models I, II, and III using co-seismic gravity changes measured by GRACE, de-striped by DDK3 decorrelation filter. The total seismic moments of our slip models, with respective values of 4.9×1022 Nm, 5.1×1022 Nm, and 5.0×1022 Nm, are smaller than those obtained by other studies relying on GRACE data. The resulting centroids are also located at greater depths (20 km, 19.8 km, and 17.4 km, respectively). By combining onshore GPS, GPS-Acoustic, and GRACE data, we obtain a jointly inverted slip model with a seismic moment of 4.8×1022 Nm, which is larger than the seismic moment obtained using only the GPS displacements. We show that the slip inverted from low degree space-borne gravimetric data, which contains information at the ocean region, is affected by the strike of the arcuate trench. The space-borne gravimetric data help us constrain the source parameters of a megathrust earthquake within the frame of heterogeneous slip models.
In this paper, we study how coseismic deformations calculated in 1066 Earth models are affected by how the models treat Earth discontinuities. From the results of applying models 1066A (continuous) and 1066B (discontinuous), we find that the difference in Love numbers of strike-slip and horizontal tensile sources are bigger than dip-slip and vertical tensile sources. Taken collectively, discontinuities have major effects on Green’s functions of four independent sources. For the near-field coseismic deformations of the 2013 Okhotsk earthquake (Mw 8.3), the overall differences between theoretical calculations in vertical displacement, geoid, and gravity changes caused by discontinuities are 10.52 percent, 9.07 percent and 6.19 percent, with RMS errors of 0.624 mm, 0.029 mm, and 0.063 μGal, respectively. The difference in far-field displacements is small, compared with GPS data, and we can neglect this effect. For the shallow earthquake, 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake (Mw 9.0), the differences in near-field displacements are 0.030 m (N-S), 0.093 m (E-W), and 0.025 m (up-down) in our study area with the ARIA slip model, which gives results closer to GPS data than those from the USGS model. The difference in vertical displacements and gravity changes on the Earth’s surface caused by discontinuities are larger than 10 percent. The difference in the theoretical gravity changes at spatially fixed points truncated to degrees 60, as required by GRACE data, is 0.0016 μGal and the discrepancy is 11 percent, with the theoretical spatial gravity changes from 1066B closer to observations than from 1066A. The results show that an Earth model with discontinuities in the medium has a large effect on the calculated coseismic deformations.