Abstract

The recent Mw 6.3 destructive L’Aquila earthquake has further stimulated the improvement of the Italian operational earthquake forecasting capability at different time intervals. Here, we describe a medium‐term (10‐year) forecast model for Mw≥5.5 earthquakes in Italy that aims at opening new possibilities for risk mitigation purposes. While a longer forecast yielded by the national seismic‐hazard map is the primary component in establishing the building code, a medium‐term earthquake forecast model may be useful to prioritize additional risk mitigation strategies such as the retrofitting of vulnerable structures. In particular, we have developed an earthquake occurrence model for a 10‐year forecast that consists of a weighted average of time‐independent and different types of available time‐dependent models, based on seismotectonic zonations and regular grids. The inclusion of time‐dependent models marks a difference with the earthquake occurrence model of the national seismic‐hazard map, and it is motivated by the fact that, at the 10‐year scale, the contribution of time‐dependency in the earthquake occurrence process may play a major role. The models are assembled through a simple averaging scheme whereby each model is weighted through the results of a retrospective testing phase similar to the ones carried out in the framework of the Collaboratory for the Study of Earthquake Predictability. In this way, the most hazardous Italian areas in the next ten years will arise from a combination of distinct models that place more emphasis on different aspects of the earthquake occurrence process, such as earthquake clustering, historical seismic rate, and the presence of delayed faults capable of large events. Finally, we report new challenges and possible developments for future updating of the model.

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