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Marine Places

Kurile and Japan Trenches

Subduction at the Kurile Trench has produced volcanoes along the Kamchatka Peninsula, as well as the volcanic island arc of the Kuriles. The Kuriles form an almost complete submarine ridge between the island of Hokkaido and Kamchatka, with only two deep water channels from the Pacific into the Sea of Okhotsk. The highest Kurile island is Atlasov, a symmetrical cone rising to 7,670 ft (2,340 m) above sea level. The islands of Honshu and Hokkaido represent a more mature island arc, where crustal thickening has resulted from prolonged subduction at the Japan Trench and the joining of multiple island arcs. With so much tectonic activity in the area, earthquakes are a constant danger. More than 100,000 people were killed and nearly 2 million made homeless in Japan’s worst earthquake, a magnitude-8 event that devastated Tokyo and Yokohama in 1923.

  • Length 2,390 miles (3,850 km)
  • Maximum Depth 26,575 ft (8,100 m)
  • Rate of Closure 3 in (8 cm) per year