Abstract

We have developed a method to detect long-period precursors for large earthquakes observed in southern California, if they occur. The method allows us to continuously monitor seismic energy radiation over a wide frequency band to investigate slow deformation in the crust (e.g., slow earthquakes), especially before large earthquakes. We used the long-period records (1 sample/sec) from TERRAscope, a broadband seismic network in southern California. The method consists of dividing the record into a series of overlapping 30-min-long windows, computing the spectra over a frequency band of 0.00055 to 0.1 Hz, and plotting them in the form of a time-frequency diagram called spectrogram. This procedure is repeated daily over a day-long record. We have analyzed the 17 January 1994 Northridge earthquake (Mw = 6.7), and the 28 June 1992 Landers earthquake (Mw = 7.3). No slow precursor with spectral amplitude measured over a duration of 30 min larger than that of a magnitude 3.7 was detected prior to either event. In other words, there was no precursor whose moment was larger than ∼0.003% of the mainshock.

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