Comparison of smoothing methods for the development of a smoothed seismicity model for Alaska and the implications for seismic hazard

ORCID iD , , , and ORCID iD


  • The Publications Warehouse does not have links to digital versions of this publication at this time
  • Download citation as: RIS | Dublin Core


In anticipation of the update of the Alaska seismic hazard maps (ASHMs) by the U. S. Geological Survey, we report progress on the comparison of smoothed seismicity models developed using fixed and adaptive smoothing algorithms, and investigate the sensitivity of seismic hazard to the models. While fault-based sources, such as those for great earthquakes in the Alaska-Aleutian subduction zone and for the ~10 shallow crustal faults within Alaska, dominate the seismic hazard estimates for locations near to the sources, smoothed seismicity rates make important contributions to seismic hazard away from fault-based sources and where knowledge of recurrence and magnitude is not sufficient for use in hazard studies. Recent developments in adaptive smoothing methods and statistical tests for evaluating and comparing rate models prompt us to investigate the appropriateness of adaptive smoothing for the ASHMs. We develop smoothed seismicity models for Alaska using fixed and adaptive smoothing methods and compare the resulting models by calculating and evaluating the joint likelihood test. We use the earthquake catalog, and associated completeness levels, developed for the 2007 ASHM to produce fixed-bandwidth-smoothed models with smoothing distances varying from 10 to 100 km and adaptively smoothed models. Adaptive smoothing follows the method of Helmstetter et al. and defines a unique smoothing distance for each earthquake epicenter from the distance to the nth nearest neighbor. The consequence of the adaptive smoothing methods is to reduce smoothing distances, causing locally increased seismicity rates, where seismicity rates are high and to increase smoothing distances where seismicity is sparse. We follow guidance from previous studies to optimize the neighbor number (n-value) by comparing model likelihood values, which estimate the likelihood that the observed earthquake epicenters from the recent catalog are derived from the smoothed rate models. We compare likelihood values from all rate models to rank the smoothing methods. We find that adaptively smoothed seismicity models yield better likelihood values than the fixed smoothing models. Holding all other (source and ground motion) models constant, we calculate seismic hazard curves for all points across Alaska on a 0.1 degree grid, using the adaptively smoothed and fixed smoothed seismicity models separately. Because adaptively smoothed models concentrate seismicity near the earthquake epicenters where seismicity rates are high, the corresponding hazard values are higher, locally, but reduced with distance from observed seismicity, relative to the hazard from fixed-bandwidth models. We suggest that adaptively smoothed seismicity models be considered for implementation in the update to the ASHMs because of their improved likelihood estimates relative to fixed smoothing methods; however, concomitant increases in seismic hazard will cause significant changes in regions of high seismicity, such as near the subduction zone, northeast of Kotzebue, and along the NNE trending zone of seismicity in the Alaskan interior.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
Conference publication
Comparison of smoothing methods for the development of a smoothed seismicity model for Alaska and the implications for seismic hazard
Year Published:
American Geophysical Union
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s):
Geologic Hazards Science Center
Larger Work Title:
American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2013
Conference Title:
American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2013
Conference Location:
San Francisco, CA
Conference Date:
United States