A model of characteristic earthquakes and its implications for regional seismicity

Terra Nova (Impact Factor: 2.64). 05/2004; DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-3121.2004.00538.x


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.

Download full-text


Available from: Ricardo Lopez-Ruiz, Aug 15, 2014
  • Source
    • "In the model, they are the earthquakes with size N, and will be the events to forecast. The Gutenberg-Richter distribution (Ishimoto and Iida, 1939; Gutenberg and Richter, 1944, 1954) observed in regional seismicity (which includes contributions from many faults) can be reproduced adding up the seismicity of an ensemble of minimalist models whose sizes (N) are distributed as in actual faults (López-Ruiz et al., 2004). (2) Duration of the earthquake cycle. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Numerical models are starting to be used for determining the future behaviour of seismic faults and fault networks. Their final goal would be to forecast future large earthquakes. In order to use them for this task, it is necessary to synchronize each model with the current status of the actual fault or fault network it simulates (just as, for example, meteorologists synchronize their models with the atmosphere by incorporating current atmospheric data in them). However, lithospheric dynamics is largely unobservable: important parameters cannot (or can rarely) be measured in Nature. Earthquakes, though, provide indirect but measurable clues of the stress and strain status in the lithosphere, which should be helpful for the synchronization of the models. The rupture area is one of the measurable parameters of earthquakes. Here we explore how it can be used to at least synchronize fault models between themselves and forecast synthetic earthquakes. Our purpose here is to forecast synthetic earthquakes in a simple but stochastic (random) fault model. By imposing the rupture area of the synthetic earthquakes of this model on other models, the latter become partially synchronized with the first one. We use these partially synchronized models to successfully forecast most of the largest earthquakes generated by the first model. This forecasting strategy outperforms others that only take into account the earthquake series. Our results suggest that probably a good way to synchronize more detailed models with real faults is to force them to reproduce the sequence of previous earthquake ruptures on the faults. This hypothesis could be tested in the future with more detailed models and actual seismic data. Comment: Revised version. Recommended for publication in Tectonophysics
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2006 · Tectonophysics
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Renewal models are usually applied to seismic regions where large earthquakes occur repeatedly at approximately regular time intervals. In most cases, these models lack a seismological basis and are just well known statistical distributions rooted in reliability theory. Here, we show the good properties of the recently introduced minimalist model of characteristic earthquakes to describe the recurrence of these large earthquakes. Several examples in Japan, Italy, and the United States are shown.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2004 · Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    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.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2005 · Quaternary Science Reviews
Show more