Abstract

A reliable estimate of completeness magnitude, Mc, above which all earthquakes are considered to be detected by a seismic network, is vital for seismicity-related studies. We show a comprehensive analysis of Mc in Japan. We use the catalog maintained by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and also available information on seismic stations that report to JMA. For computing Mc, we adopt a commonly used method based on the Gutenberg–Richter frequency-magnitude law. Presently, Mc=1.0 might be typical in the mainland, but to have a complete catalog, one needs to use earthquakes with magnitudes of 1.9 or larger. Comparison with the Southern California Seismic Network (SCSN) suggests that the recent event detectability in the mainland generally shows similar completeness levels to that in the authoritative region of SCSN. We argue that the current Mc of Japan is due to the success of network modernization over time. Particularly, we show that the spatiotemporal change of Mc closely matches the addition of the Hi-net borehole stations to enhancing seismic-station density; it started in October 1997 in southwestern Japan, continuing to northeastern Japan until 2002. As suggested from this matching, we confirm that Mc inversely correlates with station density. Further, we find that irrespective of the network change after 1997, this correlation is unchanged in time, demonstrating that the influence on Mc from factors beyond station density does not vary in time. Contrary to Alaska and California (Wiemer and Wyss, 2000), our results do not attribute such factors simply to anthropogenic noise. Because this is due to the borehole stations that reduce ambient noise, we conclude that in Japan the anthropogenic noise has an insignificant effect on Mc.

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