Abstract

The Landers earthquake of 28 June 1992 was preceded by a seismicity rate decrease of 75% in a volume approximately 11 by 23 by 15 km, located adjacent to and north of the epicenter. This anomaly started, for all magnitude bands, in January 1988, lasting 4.5 yr up to the mainshock. A smaller volume (7 by 14 by 15 km), to the south of the epicenter, showed a seismicity rate decrease of 75% starting in November 1989. The Big Bear earthquake of the same day was preceded by a 100% decrease of the seismicity rate, within a volume of approximately 13 by 22 by 15 km around the hypocenter. This volume contained 192 earthquakes of M ≧ 1.6 during the background period of 9 yr, but none during the 1.6 yr from December 1990 to 27 June 1992. The standard deviate z values characterizing these rate changes are very high, 6.3 and 12.3, respectively, and the anomalies are unique, not surpassed in significance by any other rate decrease in portion of the southern California earthquake catalog examined (117°06′W to 115°40′W and 33°45′N to 35°10′N). No seismicity rate change was found in the vicinity of the M = 6.1 Joshua Tree earthquake of 23 April 1992. Based on magnitude signatures and frequency-magnitude analyses, we conclude that the two quiescence anomalies could not have been due to a shift or a compression of the magnitude scale, and we interpret them as precursor anomalies. This analysis was carried out using the declustered earthquake catalog for the Landers area with corrections of 0.2 and 0.1 (August 1985 and May 1990) for two suspected magnitude shifts. With a new visualization technique we can investigate the stability, and changes, of the seismicity rate as a function of time and space. By mapping z values for rate changes at every time interval, and in volumes centered on a dense grid of points (latitude, longitude), this computer code furnishes an almost continuous sequence of smooth contour maps of the degree of rate changes. Any anomalies, artificial or real, may thus be defined accurately.

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