The first step in the estimation of probabilistic seismic hazard in a region commonly consists of the definition and characterization of the relevant seismic sources. Because in low-seismicity regions seismicity is often rather diffuse and faults are difficult to identify, large areal source zones are mostly used. The corresponding hypothesis is that seismicity is uniformly distributed inside each areal seismic source zone. In this study, the impact of this hypothesis on the probabilistic hazard estimation is quantified through the generation of synthetic spatial seismicity distributions. Fractal seismicity distributions are generated inside a given source zone and probabilistic hazard is computed for a set of sites located inside this zone. In our study, the impact of the spatial seismicity distribution is defined as the deviation from the hazard value obtained for a spatially uniform seismicity distribution. From the generation of a large number of synthetic distributions, the correlation between the fractal dimension D and the impact is derived. The results show that the assumption of spatially uniform seismicity tends to bias the hazard to higher values. The correlation can be used to determine the systematic biases and uncertainties for hazard estimations in real cases, where the fractal dimension has been determined. We apply the technique in Germany (Cologne area) and in France (Alps).

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