A model of characteristic earthquakes and its implications for regional seismicity

Terra Nova (Impact Factor: 2.83). 05/2004; DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-3121.2004.00538.x

ABSTRACT Regional seismicity (i.e. that averaged over large enough areas over long enough periods of time) has a size–frequency relationship, the Gutenberg–Richter law, which differs from that found for some seismic faults, the Characteristic Earthquake relationship. But all seismicity comes in the end from active faults, so the question arises of how one seismicity pattern could emerge from the other. The recently introduced Minimalist Model of Vázquez-Prada et al. of characteristic earthquakes provides a simple representation of the seismicity originating from a single fault. Here, we show that a Characteristic Earthquake relationship together with a fractal distribution of fault lengths can accurately describe the total seismicity produced in a region. The resulting earthquake catalogue accounts for the addition of both all the characteristic and all the non-characteristic events triggered in the faults. The global accumulated size–frequency relationship strongly depends on the fault length fractal exponent and, for fractal exponents close to 2, correctly describes a Gutenberg–Richter distribution with a b exponent compatible with real seismicity.

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    ABSTRACT: The southern portion of the Upper Rhine Graben, a major oblique rift among France, Germany and Switzerland, shows a weak instrumental seismic record despite its remarkable physiographic imprint within the Northern Alpine foreland. Since traces of active deformation can be found in this region and based on experience in other European areas with high seismic hazard and dense population, we searched for past earthquakes recorded in historical catalogues. Based on the fact that tectonic deformation cumulates through geological time and considering that long-term effects tend to leave characteristic signatures on present-day landscape arrangement, our goal was to identify faults that could have caused the damage of recorded historical events.We isolated five main earthquakes, of moderate Richter magnitude, essentially located on the E flank of the graben (as is the case with recent seismic activity). To such events, we were able to associate a specific prospective structure through the use of a procedure thus far successfully employed in Southern European contexts. We concentrated on three events which showed (a) notable sensitivity to the density of the historical felt reports and (b) accordance with on-going subtle deformation pattern. Another, most relevant earthquake (M 5.5) yielded a promising match with the known deformation network in the region.As a template to better constrain earthquake cycle and damage potential, historical seismicity offers an invaluable tool, since it contains a specific record, although not always unambiguous. Cross-checking such data with pertinent geological information allows to devise a realistic fault geometry capable of being responsible for a specific seismic event.
    Quaternary Science Reviews 01/2005; · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    Bulletin of The Seismological Society of America - BULL SEISMOL SOC AMER. 01/2004; 94(5):1960-1967.
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