ABSTRACT

Periodic or quasiperiodic earthquake recurrence on individual faults, as predicted by the elastic rebound model, is not common in nature. Instead, most earthquake sequences are complex and variable, and often show clusters of events separated by long but irregular intervals of quiescence. Such temporal patterns are especially common for large earthquakes in complex fault zones or regional and global fault networks. Mathematically described as the Devil’s Staircase, such temporal patterns are a fractal property of nonlinear complex systems, in which a change of any part (e.g., rupture of a fault or fault segment) could affect the behavior of the whole system. We found that the lengths of the quiescent intervals between clusters are inversely related to tectonic‐loading rates, whereas earthquake clustering can be attributed to many factors, including earthquake‐induced viscoelastic relaxation and fault interaction. Whereas the underlying causes of the characteristics of earthquake sequences are not fully known, we attempted to statistically characterize these sequences. We found that most earthquake sequences are burstier than the Poisson model commonly used in probabilistic seismic hazard analysis, implying a higher probability of repeating events soon after a large earthquake.

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