The statistical capabilities of Ms:mb earthquake-explosion discrimination are derived from cumulative distributions of a linear discrimination parameter with confidence limits estimated by a distribution-free method. Cumulative discriminant distributions are shown to be preferable to previously employed “operating characteristics” because of difficulties of construction and interpretation of the latter. Three sets of Ms:mb discrimination data, two regional (North American and Eurasian) and one global, are employed to estimate false alarm probabilities at given “deterrence” (probability of correct identification of an explosion) for situations of both a ban and no ban on underground testing. In the hypothetical situation of monitoring a test ban using the Ms:mb criterion, reasonable deterrence (nominally 30 per cent, with a 95 per cent confidence that it is greater than 10 per cent) will be accompanied by a false alarm probability estimated from global data of about 0.1 per cent.

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