Abstract

In stable continental regions (SCRs), the process of probabilistic seismic‐hazard assessment (PSHA) remains a scientific and technical challenge. In producing a new national hazard model for Australia, we developed several innovative techniques to address these challenges.

The Australian seismic catalog is heterogeneous due to the variability between magnitude types and the sparse networks. To reduce the resulting high epistemic uncertainty in the recurrence parameters, a and b, the magnitudes of pre‐1990 earthquakes have been empirically corrected to account for changes in magnitude formulas around 1990. In addition, existing methods for estimating recurrence parameters (e.g., maximum likelihood estimation) were found to be unstable. To overcome this problem, a new method was developed that removes outlier earthquakes before applying a regression.

The incorporation of a model of episodic seismicity into the new hazard model required deviation from the more conventional method of PSHA. The selection of the maximum earthquake magnitude Mmax is based on the analysis of surface ruptures from paleoearthquakes, with Mmax thought to vary between geological domains (e.g., 7.2–7.6 in nonextended SCR and 7.4–7.8 in extended SCR). The sensitivity of PSHA to Mmax, source zone boundary location, recurrence parameters, and ground‐motion prediction equations (GMPEs) was examined in this study. The hazard was found to be generally insensitive to Mmax in the estimated preferred magnitude range. The uncertainty in recurrence parameters was found to contribute a variation in hazard comparable to the epistemic uncertainty associated with the different GMPEs used in this study. For sites near source zone boundaries, a similar variation in hazard was observed by reasonable changes in the position of the boundaries. Aleatory variability and epistemic uncertainty in GMPEs are routinely incorporated in PSHAs, as is variation in Mmax. However, the uncertainties in recurrence parameters and source zone boundaries are generally given less attention.

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