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Epistemic uncertainties in local earthquake locations and implications for managing induced seismicity

Alexander Garcia-Aristizabal, Stefania Danesi, Thomas Braun, Mario Anselmi, Lucia Zaccarelli, Daniela Famiani and Andrea Morelli
Epistemic uncertainties in local earthquake locations and implications for managing induced seismicity
Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (July 2020) 110 (5): 2423-2440


Earthquake hypocentral location is perhaps the most classical problem in seismology, the solution of which is often affected by significant uncertainty. In monitoring the effects of underground anthropogenic activities, the earthquake hypocentral location, magnitude, and ground motions are important parameters for managing induced seismicity (as e.g., for operating traffic-light systems). Such decisional systems define the operative reactions to be enacted once an earthquake, exceeding some magnitude or ground-motion threshold, occurs within a monitoring volume defined in the neighborhood of a certain anthropogenic underground activity. In this case, a reliable evaluation of the hypocentral location, along with its uncertainty, becomes crucial for rational decision making. In this article, we analyze different sources of uncertainty that can be relevant for the determination of earthquake source locations, and introduce a logic-tree-based ensemble modeling approach for framing the problem in a decision-making context. To demonstrate the performance of the proposed approach, we analyze uncertainties in the location of a seismic event that occurred on 22 July 2019 within the perimeter of the monitoring domain defined in the Val d'Agri oil field (southern Italy). We cast the result as a model ensemble that allows us to obtain samples from a parent distribution that better represents both aleatory and epistemic uncertainties of the earthquake location problem. We find that often-neglected epistemic uncertainties (i.e., those that arise when considering alternative plausible modeling approaches or data) can be considerably larger and more representative of the state of knowledge about the source location, than the standard errors usually reported by the most common algorithms. Given the consequential repercussions of decision making under uncertainty, we stress that an objective evaluation of epistemic uncertainties associated with any parameter used to support decisional processes must be a priority for the scientific community.

ISSN: 0037-1106
EISSN: 1943-3573
Serial Title: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Serial Volume: 110
Serial Issue: 5
Title: Epistemic uncertainties in local earthquake locations and implications for managing induced seismicity
Affiliation: Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Bologna, Italy
Pages: 2423-2440
Published: 20200707
Text Language: English
Publisher: Seismological Society of America, Berkeley, CA, United States
References: 67
Accession Number: 2020-067262
Categories: Seismology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 1 table, sketch map
N40°00'00" - N40°36'00", E15°35'60" - E16°23'60"
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2022, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, Copyright, Seismological Society of America. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 202041
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