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Book Chapter

An inverse cascade explanation for the power-law frequency–area statistics of earthquakes, landslides and wildfires

By
Bruce D. Malamud
Bruce D. Malamud
1
Environmental Monitoring and Modelling Research Group, Department of Geography, King’s College London
Strand, London WC2R 2LS, UK
bruce@malamud.com
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;
Donald L. Turcotte
Donald L. Turcotte
2
Department of Geology, University of California
Davis, CA, 95616, USA
turcotte@geology.ucdavis.edu
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Published:
January 01, 2006

Abstract

Frequency–magnitude statistics for natural hazards can greatly help in probabilistic hazard assessments. An example is the case of earthquakes, where the generality of a power-law (fractal) frequency–rupture area correlation is a major feature in seismic risk mapping. Other examples of this power-law frequency–size behaviour are landslides and wildfires. In previous studies, authors have made the potential association of the hazard statistics with a simple cellular-automata model that also has robust power-law statistics: earthquakes with slider-block models, landslides with sandpile models, and wildfires with forest-fire models. A potential explanation for the robust power-law behaviour of both the models and natural hazards can be made in terms of an inverse-cascade of metastable regions. A metastable region is the region over which an ‘avalanche’ spreads once triggered. Clusters grow primarily by coalescence. Growth dominates over losses except for the very largest clusters. The cascade of cluster growth is self-similar and the frequency of cluster areas exhibits power-law scaling. We show how the power-law exponent of the frequency–area distribution of clusters is related to the fractal dimension of cluster shapes.

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Contents

Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Fractal Analysis for Natural Hazards

G. Cello
G. Cello
University of Camerino, Italy
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B. D. Malamud
B. D. Malamud
King's College London, UK
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Geological Society of London
Volume
261
ISBN electronic:
9781862395091
Publication date:
January 01, 2006

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