Abstract

At least three moment magnitude (M) 7 earthquakes occurred along California's north coast in the second half of the nineteenth century. The M 7.3 earthquake on 23 November 1873 occurred near the California-Oregon coast and likely was located on the Cascadia subduction zone or within the North American plate. The M 7.0+ earthquake on 9 May 1878 was located about 75 km offshore near the Mendocino fault. The surface-wave magnitude (MS) 7.0 earthquake on 16 April 1899 was located about 150 km offshore within the Gorda plate. There were at least three M 7 north-coast earthquakes in the 35 years before 1906, two M 7 earthquakes in the 20 years after 1906, no M 7 earthquakes from 1923 until 1980, and four M 7 earthquakes since 1980. The relative seismic quiescence after 1906 for M 7 earthquakes along California's north coast mimics the post-1906 seismic quiescence in the San Francisco Bay area for M 6 earthquakes. The post-1906 relative quiescence did not extend to lower magnitudes in either area. The 18 April 1906 earthquake apparently influenced the rate of occurrence of M 7 north-coast earthquakes as it apparently influenced the rate of M 6 earthquakes in the San Francisco Bay area. The relative seismic quiescence along the California north-coast region after 1906 should be taken into account when evaluating seismic hazards in northwest California.

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