Benioff zone


Ben·​i·​off zone
: a seismically active underground area within a subduction zone
Researchers say today's type of quake …, or Benioff zone, earthquake, is the most frequent and potentially most benign of the types of earthquake in the region.Carol Kaesuk Yoon, New York Times, 1 Mar. 2001
A seismic zone dipping beneath a continental margin or an island arc, and having a deep-sea trench as its surface expression, is called a Benioff zone, after Hugo Benioff, the American seismologist who first described the feature.Sheldon Judson and Marvin E. Kauffman, Physical Geology, 8th Edition, 1990

Word History


after Victor Hugo Benioff †1968 American seismologist

Note: The existence of such areas was suggested by Benioff in several papers, such as "Seismic Evidence for the Fault Origin of Oceanic Deeps," Geological Society of America Bulletin, vol. 60, no. 12 (1949), pp. 1837-56, and "Seismic Evidence for Crustal Structure and Tectonic Activity," in Arie Poldervaart, editor, Crust of the Earth—A Symposium, Geological Society of America Special Papers, vol. 62 (1955), pp. 61-74.

First Known Use

1967, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Benioff zone was in 1967

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Cite this Entry

“Benioff zone.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

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