Earthquake catalogs are primary data sources for inferring earthquake behavior, testing earthquake pattern hypotheses, and estimating seismic hazards. As in any quantitative science, understanding uncertainties is crucial to proper interpretation. Examining catalog properties will also help guide future improvements in seismic observation and catalog reporting.

In an effort to create a combined earthquake catalog for southern California, I analyze several earthquake catalogs compiled in California since the 1970's to determine the accuracy of their magnitude determinations and earthquake focal mechanisms. California local earthquake catalogs were among the first to be compiled in the instrumental era (Hileman et al.,...

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