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Convergence of the frequency-magnitude distribution of global earthquakes - maybe in 200 years

  • I study the ability to estimate the tail of the frequency-magnitude distribution of global earthquakes. While power-law scaling for small earthquakes is accepted by support of data, the tail remains speculative. In a recent study, Bell et al. (2013) claim that the frequency-magnitude distribution of global earthquakes converges to a tapered Pareto distribution. I show that this finding results from data fitting errors, namely from the biased maximum likelihood estimation of the corner magnitude theta in strongly undersampled models. In particular, the estimation of theta depends solely on the few largest events in the catalog. Taking this into account, I compare various state-of-the-art models for the global frequency-magnitude distribution. After discarding undersampled models, the remaining ones, including the unbounded Gutenberg-Richter distribution, perform all equally well and are, therefore, indistinguishable. Convergence to a specific distribution, if it ever takes place, requires about 200 years homogeneous recording of globalI study the ability to estimate the tail of the frequency-magnitude distribution of global earthquakes. While power-law scaling for small earthquakes is accepted by support of data, the tail remains speculative. In a recent study, Bell et al. (2013) claim that the frequency-magnitude distribution of global earthquakes converges to a tapered Pareto distribution. I show that this finding results from data fitting errors, namely from the biased maximum likelihood estimation of the corner magnitude theta in strongly undersampled models. In particular, the estimation of theta depends solely on the few largest events in the catalog. Taking this into account, I compare various state-of-the-art models for the global frequency-magnitude distribution. After discarding undersampled models, the remaining ones, including the unbounded Gutenberg-Richter distribution, perform all equally well and are, therefore, indistinguishable. Convergence to a specific distribution, if it ever takes place, requires about 200 years homogeneous recording of global seismicity, at least.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Gert Zöller
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/grl.50779
ISSN:0094-8276 (print)
ISSN:1944-8007 (online)
Parent Title (English):Geophysical research letters
Publisher:American Geophysical Union
Place of publication:Washington
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2013
Year of Completion:2013
Release Date:2017/03/26
Tag:statistical seismology
Volume:40
Issue:15
Pagenumber:5
First Page:3873
Last Page:3877
Funder:Potsdam Research Cluster for Georisk Analysis, Environmental Change and Sustainability (PROGRESS)
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Mathematik
Peer Review:Referiert