Abstract

The process of maximum magnitude estimation is intrinsically subjective and depends directly on the experience and judgment of the analyst. Coppersmith et al. (1987; Table 1) discuss six methods for determining the maximum magnitude earthquake for a seismogenic zone. Those include: (I) Addition of an increment to the largest historical earthquake, (II) Extrapolation of magnitude recurrence relations, (III) Use of source dimensions to estimate magnitude, (IV) Statistical approaches (application of extreme value theory and maximum likelihood techniques), (V) Strain rate or moment release rate methods, and (VI) Reference to a global data base. Each technique has associated uncertainties in its applicability to the zone under consideration as well as in the specification of the key parameters involved. Of the six techniques listed above, only the first three are applicable to the data bases presently available for intraplate areas. Application of methods I, II, and III, to the Giles County, Virginia, seismic zone leads to the following results: MS,I = 6.9 (second subscript indicating which of the six methods was used) from adding a 1.0 increment to the maximum historical earthquake known to have occurred in the zone (May 31, 1897; MMI = VIII; mb = 5.8, MS = 5.9), MS,II = 7.0 from extension of the magnitude recurrence curve for the zone to a recurrence interval of 1000 years, and MS,III = 6.5 from the average of six estimates for the fault zone area. For a single estimate of maximum magnitude, the average of the above three values MS = 6.8 or equivalently, mb = 6.3 can be used.

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