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The Gutenberg-Richter relation for earthquake magnitudes is the most famous empirical law in seismology. It states that the frequency of earthquake magnitudes follows an exponential distribution; this has been found to be a robust feature of seismicity above the completeness magnitude, and it is independent of whether global, regional, or local seismicity is analyzed. However, the exponent b of the distribution varies significantly in space and time, which is important for process understanding and seismic hazard assessment; this is particularly true because of the fact that the Gutenberg-Richter b-value acts as a proxy for the stress state and quantifies the ratio of large-to-small earthquakes. In our work, we focus on the automatic detection of statistically significant temporal changes of the b-value in seismicity data. In our approach, we use Bayes factors for model selection and estimate multiple change-points of the frequency-magnitude distribution in time. The method is first applied to synthetic data, showing its capability to detect change-points as function of the size of the sample and the b-value contrast. Finally, we apply this approach to examples of observational data sets for which b-value changes have previously been stated. Our analysis of foreshock and after-shock sequences related to mainshocks, as well as earthquake swarms, shows that only a portion of the b-value changes is statistically significant.

One of the crucial components in seismic hazard analysis is the estimation of the maximum earthquake magnitude and associated uncertainty. In the present study, the uncertainty related to the maximum expected magnitude mu is determined in terms of confidence intervals for an imposed level of confidence. Previous work by Salamat et al. (Pure Appl Geophys 174:763-777, 2017) shows the divergence of the confidence interval of the maximum possible magnitude m(max) for high levels of confidence in six seismotectonic zones of Iran. In this work, the maximum expected earthquake magnitude mu is calculated in a predefined finite time interval and imposed level of confidence. For this, we use a conceptual model based on a doubly truncated Gutenberg-Richter law for magnitudes with constant b-value and calculate the posterior distribution of mu for the time interval T-f in future. We assume a stationary Poisson process in time and a Gutenberg-Richter relation for magnitudes. The upper bound of the magnitude confidence interval is calculated for different time intervals of 30, 50, and 100 years and imposed levels of confidence alpha = 0.5, 0.1, 0.05, and 0.01. The posterior distribution of waiting times T-f to the next earthquake with a given magnitude equal to 6.5, 7.0, and7.5 are calculated in each zone. In order to find the influence of declustering, we use the original and declustered version of the catalog. The earthquake catalog of the territory of Iran and surroundings are subdivided into six seismotectonic zones Alborz, Azerbaijan, Central Iran, Zagros, Kopet Dagh, and Makran. We assume the maximum possible magnitude m(max) = 8.5 and calculate the upper bound of the confidence interval of mu in each zone. The results indicate that for short time intervals equal to 30 and 50 years and imposed levels of confidence 1 - alpha = 0.95 and 0.90, the probability distribution of mu is around mu = 7.16-8.23 in all seismic zones.

Kijko et al. (2016) present various methods to estimate parameters that are relevant for probabilistic seismic-hazard assessment. One of these parameters, although not the most influential, is the maximum possible earthquake magnitude m(max). I show that the proposed estimation of m(max) is based on an erroneous equation related to a misuse of the estimator in Cooke (1979) and leads to unstable results. So far, reported finite estimations of m(max) arise from data selection, because the estimator in Kijko et al. (2016) diverges with finite probability. This finding is independent of the assumed distribution of earthquake magnitudes. For the specific choice of the doubly truncated Gutenberg-Richter distribution, I illustrate the problems by deriving explicit equations. Finally, I conclude that point estimators are generally not a suitable approach to constrain m(max).

The majority of earthquakes occur unexpectedly and can trigger subsequent sequences of events that can culminate in more powerful earthquakes. This self-exciting nature of seismicity generates complex clustering of earthquakes in space and time. Therefore, the problem of constraining the magnitude of the largest expected earthquake during a future time interval is of critical importance in mitigating earthquake hazard. We address this problem by developing a methodology to compute the probabilities for such extreme earthquakes to be above certain magnitudes. We combine the Bayesian methods with the extreme value theory and assume that the occurrence of earthquakes can be described by the Epidemic Type Aftershock Sequence process. We analyze in detail the application of this methodology to the 2016 Kumamoto, Japan, earthquake sequence. We are able to estimate retrospectively the probabilities of having large subsequent earthquakes during several stages of the evolution of this sequence.

This paper concerns the problem of predicting the maximum expected earthquake magnitude μ in a future time interval Tf given a catalog covering a time period T in the past. Different studies show the divergence of the confidence interval of the maximum possible earthquake magnitude m_{ max } for high levels of confidence (Salamat et al. 2017). Therefore, m_{ max } should be better replaced by μ (Holschneider et al. 2011). In a previous study (Salamat et al. 2018), μ is estimated for an instrumental earthquake catalog of Iran from 1900 onwards with a constant level of completeness ( {m0 = 5.5} ). In the current study, the Bayesian methodology developed by Zöller et al. (2014, 2015) is applied for the purpose of predicting μ based on the catalog consisting of both historical and instrumental parts. The catalog is first subdivided into six subcatalogs corresponding to six seismotectonic zones, and each of those zone catalogs is subsequently subdivided according to changes in completeness level and magnitude uncertainty. For this, broad and small error distributions are considered for historical and instrumental earthquakes, respectively. We assume that earthquakes follow a Poisson process in time and Gutenberg-Richter law in the magnitude domain with a priori unknown a and b values which are first estimated by Bayes' theorem and subsequently used to estimate μ. Imposing different values of m_{ max } for different seismotectonic zones namely Alborz, Azerbaijan, Central Iran, Zagros, Kopet Dagh and Makran, the results show considerable probabilities for the occurrence of earthquakes with Mw ≥ 7.5 in short Tf , whereas for long Tf, μ is almost equal to m_{ max }

Introduction to special issue: Dynamics of seismicity patterns and earthquake triggering - Preface
(2006)

Extreme value statistics is a popular and frequently used tool to model the occurrence of large earthquakes. The problem of poor statistics arising from rare events is addressed by taking advantage of the validity of general statistical properties in asymptotic regimes. In this note, I argue that the use of extreme value statistics for the purpose of practically modeling the tail of the frequency-magnitude distribution of earthquakes can produce biased and thus misleading results because it is unknown to what degree the tail of the true distribution is sampled by data. Using synthetic data allows to quantify this bias in detail. The implicit assumption that the true M-max is close to the maximum observed magnitude M-max,M-observed restricts the class of the potential models a priori to those with M-max = M-max,M-observed + Delta M with an increment Delta M approximate to 0.5... 1.2. This corresponds to the simple heuristic method suggested by Wheeler (2009) and labeled :M-max equals M-obs plus an increment." The incomplete consideration of the entire model family for the frequency-magnitude distribution neglects, however, the scenario of a large so far unobserved earthquake.

The Coulomb failure stress (CFS) criterion is the most commonly used method for predicting spatial distributions of aftershocks following large earthquakes. However, large uncertainties are always associated with the calculation of Coulomb stress change. The uncertainties mainly arise due to nonunique slip inversions and unknown receiver faults; especially for the latter, results are highly dependent on the choice of the assumed receiver mechanism. Based on binary tests (aftershocks yes/no), recent studies suggest that alternative stress quantities, a distance-slip probabilistic model as well as deep neural network (DNN) approaches, all are superior to CFS with predefined receiver mechanism. To challenge this conclusion, which might have large implications, we use 289 slip inversions from SRCMOD database to calculate more realistic CFS values for a layered half-space and variable receiver mechanisms. We also analyze the effect of the magnitude cutoff, grid size variation, and aftershock duration to verify the use of receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis for the ranking of stress metrics. The observations suggest that introducing a layered half-space does not improve the stress maps and ROC curves. However, results significantly improve for larger aftershocks and shorter time periods but without changing the ranking. We also go beyond binary testing and apply alternative statistics to test the ability to estimate aftershock numbers, which confirm that simple stress metrics perform better than the classic Coulomb failure stress calculations and are also better than the distance-slip probabilistic model.

The knowledge of the largest expected earthquake magnitude in a region is one of the key issues in probabilistic seismic hazard calculations and the estimation of worst-case scenarios. Earthquake catalogues are the most informative source of information for the inference of earthquake magnitudes. We analysed the earthquake catalogue for Central Asia with respect to the largest expected magnitudes m(T) in a pre-defined time horizon T-f using a recently developed statistical methodology, extended by the explicit probabilistic consideration of magnitude errors. For this aim, we assumed broad error distributions for historical events, whereas the magnitudes of recently recorded instrumental earthquakes had smaller errors. The results indicate high probabilities for the occurrence of large events (M >= 8), even in short time intervals of a few decades. The expected magnitudes relative to the assumed maximum possible magnitude are generally higher for intermediate-depth earthquakes (51-300 km) than for shallow events (0-50 km). For long future time horizons, for example, a few hundred years, earthquakes with M >= 8.5 have to be taken into account, although, apart from the 1889 Chilik earthquake, it is probable that no such event occurred during the observation period of the catalogue.