“Loss of fluid from the offshore megathrust interface through these strike-slip faults is important,” the statement notes, “because it lowers the fluid pressure between the sediment particles and hence increases the friction between the oceanic and continental plates.”

Using an interesting metaphor, (interesting metaphor means speculation on what this means) Solomon said that the “megathrust fault zone is like an air hockey table,” and “if the fluid pressure is high, it’s like the air is turned on, meaning there’s less friction and the two plates can slip.””If the fluid pressure is lower, the two plates will lock,” he continued. “That’s when stress can build up.”According to the researchers, this is the first known seafloor leak of its kind, though others could exist nearby without having been detected yet.