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Quasi-periodic recurrence of large earthquakes on the southern San Andreas Fault

Katherine M. Scharer, Glenn P. Biasi, Ray J. Weldon and Tom E. Fumal
Quasi-periodic recurrence of large earthquakes on the southern San Andreas Fault
Geology (Boulder) (June 2010) 38 (6): 555-558


It has been 153 yr since the last large earthquake on the southern San Andreas fault (California, United States), but the average interseismic interval is only approximately 100 yr. If the recurrence of large earthquakes is periodic, rather than random or clustered, the length of this period is notable and would generally increase the risk estimated in probabilistic seismic hazard analyses. Unfortunately, robust characterization of a distribution describing earthquake recurrence on a single fault is limited by the brevity of most earthquake records. Here we use statistical tests on a 3000 yr combined record of 29 ground-rupturing earthquakes from Wrightwood, California. We show that earthquake recurrence there is more regular than expected from a Poisson distribution and is not clustered, leading us to conclude that recurrence is quasi-periodic. The observation of unimodal time dependence is persistent across an observationally based sensitivity analysis that critically examines alternative interpretations of the geologic record. The results support formal forecast efforts that use renewal models to estimate probabilities of future earthquakes on the southern San Andreas fault. Only four intervals (15%) from the record are longer than the present open interval, highlighting the current hazard posed by this fault.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 38
Serial Issue: 6
Title: Quasi-periodic recurrence of large earthquakes on the southern San Andreas Fault
Affiliation: Appalachian State University, Department of Geology, Boone, NC, United States
Pages: 555-558
Published: 201006
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 30
Accession Number: 2010-050222
Categories: Quaternary geologySeismology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: With GSA Data Repository Item 2010155
Illustration Description: illus. incl. sketch maps
N34°00'00" - N35°45'00", W117°40'00" - W114°15'00"
Secondary Affiliation: University of Nevada-Reno, USA, United StatesUniversity of Oregon, USA, United StatesU. S. Geological Survey, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201027
Program Name: USGSOPNon-USGS publications with USGS authors
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