An important issue for regional tectonics and earthquake hazard estimation is whether large earthquakes are “characteristic”, more frequent than would be inferred from the rates of smaller events. A challenge in resolving this question is that the rates of small earthquakes are typically determined from the seismologically recorded earthquake history, whereas the rates of large earthquakes are inferred from paleoseismic observations. As a consequence, different results from comparing the two can arise depending on the specific assumptions made and time and space sampling used.

In general, earthquake recurrences approximately follow a log-linear, b-value, or Gutenberg-Richter relation, log N =...

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