Abstract

Previous approaches used to determine the rates of different earthquakes on a fault have made assumptions regarding segmentation, have been difficult to document and reproduce, and have lacked the ability to satisfy all available data constraints. We present a relatively objective and reproducible inverse methodology for determining the rate of different ruptures on a fault or fault system. The data used in the inversion include slip rate, event rate, and other constraints such as an optional a priori magnitude–frequency distribution. We demonstrate our methodology by solving for the long-term rate of ruptures on the southern San Andreas fault. Our results imply that a Gutenberg–Richter distribution is consistent with the data available for this fault; however, more work is needed to test the robustness of this assertion. More importantly, the methodology is extensible to an entire fault system (thereby including multifault ruptures) and can be used to quantify the relative benefits of collecting additional paleoseismic data at different sites.

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