Abstract

Source parameters for historical earthquakes worldwide are compiled to develop a series of empirical relationships among moment magnitude (M), surface rupture length, subsurface rupture length, downdip rupture width, rupture area, and maximum and average displacement per event. The resulting data base is a significant update of previous compilations and includes the additional source parameters of seismic moment, moment magnitude, subsurface rupture length, downdip rupture width, and average surface displacement. Each source parameter is classified as reliable or unreliable, based on our evaluation of the accuracy of individual values. Only the reliable source parameters are used in the final analyses. In comparing source parameters, we note the following trends: (1) Generally, the length of rupture at the surface is equal to 75% of the subsurface rupture length; however, the ratio of surface rupture length to subsurface rupture length increases with magnitude; (2) the average surface displacement per event is about one-half the maximum surface displacement per event; and (3) the average subsurface displacement on the fault plane is less than the maximum surface displacement but more than the average surface displacement. Thus, for most earthquakes in this data base, slip on the fault plane at seismogenic depths is manifested by similar displacements at the surface. Log-linear regressions between earthquake magnitude and surface rupture length, subsurface rupture length, and rupture area are especially well correlated, showing standard deviations of 0.25 to 0.35 magnitude units. Most relationships are not statistically different (at a 95% significance level) as a function of the style of faulting: thus, we consider the regressions for all slip types to be appropriate for most applications. Regressions between magnitude and displacement, magnitude and rupture width, and between displacement and rupture length are less well correlated and have larger standard deviation than regressions between magnitude and length or area. The large number of data points in most of these regressions and their statistical stability suggest that they are unlikely to change significantly in response to additional data. Separating the data according to extensional and compressional tectonic environments neither provides statistically different results nor improves the statistical significance of the regressions. Regressions for cases in which earthquake magnitude is either the independent or the dependent parameter can be used to estimate maximum earthquake magnitudes both for surface faults and for subsurface seismic sources such as blind faults, and to estimate the expected surface displacement along a fault for a given size earthquake.

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