ABSTRACT

This study addresses questions about the productivity of Cascadia mainshock–aftershock sequences using earthquake catalogs produced by the Geological Survey of Canada and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network. Questions concern the likelihood that future moderate to large intermediate depth intraslab earthquakes in Cascadia would have as few detectable aftershocks as those documented since 1949. More broadly, for Cascadia, we consider if aftershock productivities vary spatially, if they are outliers among global subduction zones, and if they are consistent with a physical model in which aftershocks are clock‐advanced versions of tectonically driven background seismicity. A practical motivation for this study is to assess the likely accuracy of aftershock forecasts based on productivities derived from global data that are now being issued routinely by the U.S. Geological Survey. For this reason, we estimated productivity following the identical procedures used in those forecasts and described in Page et al. (2016). Results indicate that in Cascadia we can say that the next intermediate depth intraslab earthquake will likely have just a few detectable aftershocks and that aftershock productivity appears to be an outlier among global subduction zones, with rates that on average are lower by more than half, except for mainshocks in the upper plate. Our results are consistent with a clock‐advance model; productivities may be related to the proximity of mainshocks to a population of seismogenic fault patches and correlate with background seismicity rates. The latter and a clear correlation between productivities with mainshock depth indicate that both factors may have predictive value for aftershock forecasting.

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