Temporal clustering of the larger earthquakes (foreshock-mainshock-aftershock) followed by relative quiescence (stress shadow) are characteristic of seismic cycles along plate boundaries. A global seismic-moment release history, based on a little more than 100 years of instrumental earthquake data in an extended version of the catalog of Pacheco and Sykes (1992), illustrates similar behavior for Earth as a whole. Although the largest earthquakes have occurred in the circum-Pacific region, an analysis of moment release in the hemisphere antipodal to the Pacific plate shows a very similar pattern. Monte Carlo simulations confirm that the global temporal clustering of great shallow earthquakes during 1952-1964 at M ??? 9.0 is highly significant (4% random probability) as is the clustering of the events of M ??? 8.6 (0.2% random probability) during 1950-1965. We have extended the Pacheco and Sykes (1992) catalog from 1989 through 2001 using Harvard moment centroid data. Immediately after the 1950-1965 cluster, significant quiescence at and above M 8.4 begins and continues until 2001 (0.5% random probability). In alternative catalogs derived by correcting for possible random errors in magnitude estimates in the extended Pacheco-Sykes catalog, the clustering of M ??? 9 persists at a significant level. These observations indicate that, for great earthquakes, Earth behaves as a coherent seismotectonic system. A very-large-scale mechanism for global earthquake triggering and/or stress transfer is implied. There are several candidates, but so far only viscoelastic relaxation has been modeled on a global scale.
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Evidence for a global seismic-moment release sequence