Abstract

We present a new automatic earthquake discrimination procedure to determine in near‐real time the tectonic regime and seismotectonic domain of an earthquake, its most likely source type, and the corresponding ground‐motion prediction equation (GMPE) class to be used in the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Global ShakeMap system. This method makes use of the Flinn–Engdahl regionalization scheme, seismotectonic information (plate boundaries, global geology, seismicity catalogs, and regional and local studies), and the source parameters available from the USGS National Earthquake Information Center in the minutes following an earthquake to give the best estimation of the setting and mechanism of the event. Depending on the tectonic setting, additional criteria based on hypocentral depth, style of faulting, and regional seismicity may be applied. For subduction zones, these criteria include the use of focal mechanism information and detailed interface models to discriminate among outer‐rise, upper‐plate, interface, and intraslab seismicity. The scheme is validated against a large database of recent historical earthquakes. Though developed to assess GMPE selection in Global ShakeMap operations, we anticipate a variety of uses for this strategy, from real‐time processing systems to any analysis involving tectonic classification of sources from seismic catalogs.

Online Material: Tables and figures summarizing the proposed discrimination scheme and its performance.

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