Nowcasting earthquakes

Rundle, J., D. L. Turcotte, A. Donnellan, L. G. Ludwig, M. Luginbuhl, and G. Gong (2016), Nowcasting earthquakes, Earth and Space Science, 3, 1-7, doi:10.1002/2016EA000185.

Nowcasting is a term originating from economics and finance. It refers to the process of determining the uncertain state of the economy or markets at the current time by indirect means. We apply this idea to seismically active regions, where the goal is to determine the current state of the fault system and its current level of progress through the earthquake cycle. In our implementation of this idea, we use the global catalog of earthquakes, using “small” earthquakes to determine the level of hazard from “large” earthquakes in the region. Our method does not involve any model other than the idea of an earthquake cycle. Rather, we define a specific region and a specific large earthquake magnitude of interest, ensuring that we have enough data to span at least ~20 or more large earthquake cycles in the region. We then compute the earthquake potential score (EPS) which is defined as the cumulative probability distribution P(n < n(t)) for the current count n(t) for the small earthquakes in the region. From the count of small earthquakes since the last large earthquake, we determine the value of EPS = P(n < n(t)). EPS is therefore the current level of hazard and assigns a number between 0% and 100% to every region so defined, thus providing a unique measure. Physically, the EPS corresponds to an estimate of the level of progress through the earthquake cycle in the defined region at the current time.

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Earth Surface & Interior Program (ESI)