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Seismic activity in the 10 months preceding the 1980 February 14, mb 4.8 earthquake in the Virgin Islands, reported on by Frankel in 1982, consisted of four principal cycles. Each cycle began with a relatively large event or series of closely spaced events, and the duration of the cycles progressively shortened by a factor of about 3/4. Had this regular shortening of the cycles been recognized prior to the earthquake, the time of the next episode of setsmicity (the main shock) might have been closely estimated 41 days in advance. That this event could be much larger than the previous events is indicated from time-to-failure analysis of the accelerating rise in released seismic energy, using a non-linear time- and slip-predictable foreshock model. Examination of the timing of all events in the sequence shows an even higher degree of order. Rates of seismicity, measured by consecutive interevent times, when plotted on an iteration diagram of a rate versus the succeeding rate, form a triangular circulating trajectory. The trajectory becomes an ascending helix if extended in a third dimension, time. This construction reveals additional and precise relations among the time intervals between times of relatively high or relatively low rates of seismic activity, including period halving and doubling. The set of 666 time intervals between all possible pairs of the 37 recorded events appears to be a fractal; the set of time points that define the intervals has a finite, non-integer correlation dimension of 0.70. In contrast, the average correlation dimension of 50 random sequences of 37 events is significantly higher, dose to 1.0. In a similar analysis, the set of distances between pairs of epicentres has a fractal correlation dimension of 1.52. Well-defined cycles, numerous precise ratios among time intervals, and a non-random temporal fractal dimension suggest that the seismic series is not a random process, but rather the product of a deterministic dynamic system.
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The cyclic and fractal seismic series preceding an mb 4.8 earthquake on 1980 February 14 near the Virgin Islands