Statistical tests of simple earthquake cycle models

Geophysical Research Letters
By:  and 



A central goal of observing and modeling the earthquake cycle is to forecast when a particular fault may generate an earthquake: a fault late in its earthquake cycle may be more likely to generate an earthquake than a fault early in its earthquake cycle. Models that can explain geodetic observations throughout the entire earthquake cycle may be required to gain a more complete understanding of relevant physics and phenomenology. Previous efforts to develop unified earthquake models for strike-slip faults have largely focused on explaining both preseismic and postseismic geodetic observations available across a few faults in California, Turkey, and Tibet. An alternative approach leverages the global distribution of geodetic and geologic slip rate estimates on strike-slip faults worldwide. Here we use the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test for similarity of distributions to infer, in a statistically rigorous manner, viscoelastic earthquake cycle models that are inconsistent with 15 sets of observations across major strike-slip faults. We reject a large subset of two-layer models incorporating Burgers rheologies at a significance level of α = 0.05 (those with long-term Maxwell viscosities ηM <~ 4.0 × 1019 Pa s and ηM >~ 4.6 × 1020 Pa s) but cannot reject models on the basis of transient Kelvin viscosity ηK. Finally, we examine the implications of these results for the predicted earthquake cycle timing of the 15 faults considered and compare these predictions to the geologic and historical record.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Statistical tests of simple earthquake cycle models
Series title Geophysical Research Letters
DOI 10.1002/2016GL070681
Volume 43
Issue 23
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Earthquake Science Center
Description 10 p.
First page 12,036
Last page 12,045
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