Random variability explains apparent global clustering of large earthquakes

Geophysical Research Letters



The occurrence of 5 Mw ≥ 8.5 earthquakes since 2004 has created a debate over whether or not we are in a global cluster of large earthquakes, temporarily raising risks above long-term levels. I use three classes of statistical tests to determine if the record of M ≥ 7 earthquakes since 1900 can reject a null hypothesis of independent random events with a constant rate plus localized aftershock sequences. The data cannot reject this null hypothesis. Thus, the temporal distribution of large global earthquakes is well-described by a random process, plus localized aftershocks, and apparent clustering is due to random variability. Therefore the risk of future events has not increased, except within ongoing aftershock sequences, and should be estimated from the longest possible record of events.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Random variability explains apparent global clustering of large earthquakes
Series title Geophysical Research Letters
DOI 10.1029/2011GL049443
Volume 38
Issue 21
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Publisher location Hoboken, NJ
Description L21301
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Geophysical Research Letters
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