The self-similarity of earthquakes gives rise to a scaling relationship between the earthquake magnitude and the frequency of occurrence, which can be represented by the Gutenberg- Richter law. This is observed to break down at high and low magnitude earthquakes.

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The self-similarity of earthquakes gives rise to a scaling relationship between the earthquake magnitude and the frequency of occurrence, which can be represented by the Gutenberg- Richter law. This is observed to break down at high and low magnitude earthquakes.

© All Rights Reserved

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Earthquake Data

1.1 Introduction

The self-similarity of earthquakes gives rise to a

scaling relationship between the earthquake

magnitude and the frequency of occurrence,

which can be represented by the Gutenberg-

Richter law

The b-value is broadly equal to 1 globally, and is

a condition of the fractal relationship of

earthquakes. ata showing the cumulative

number of earthquakes greater than magnitude

!." are plotted for both surface-wave magnitude

M

S

and moment magnitude M

W

in the appendi#.

1.2 Surface-wave magnitude plot

The relationship on the semi-log plot is broadly

linear. $owever, there are large deviations from

the linear trend at high magnitudes, particularly

above %.&. ' single line of best fit b was plotted

(dashed line) and found to have a b-value of 1.*.

The best fit is actually achieved by using two

lines, b

1

and b

2

, which have values of 1." and 1.&

receptively. The line b

1

follows self-similarity, b-

value = 1, until a magnitude of around M

S

+ !.,.

1.3 Moment-magnitude plot

The relationship shows a much better linear trend,

with only slight deviation from a b-value equal to

one towards higher magnitudes. ' best fit line b

was plotted (dashed line) and found to have a b-

value of 1.-. .imilarly the best fit is achieved by

using two lines , b

1

and b

2

, which have values of

1." and 1.* receptively. The line b

1

follows self-

similarity, b-value = 1, until a magnitude of

around M

W

+ !.,.

2. Discussion

2.1 Self-Similarity

The breakdown of self-similarity seen in both

magnitude frequency plots can be attributed to a

number of factors. /irstly, the surface-wave

magnitude scale M

S

is most efficient at recording

shallow teleseismic events (/owler -"",), and

although corrections can be applied to resolve

deeper earthquakes, the M

S

scale requires strong

surface-waves, which are seldom produced from

deep earthquakes (0ay 1 2allace 1&&,).

Therefore large earthquakes that occur at

great depths may be missed from the seismic

record altogether causing a breakdown in

self-similarity.

'dditionally, for earthquakes above a certain

si3e, the frequency at which we measure

magnitude M will be on the w

-2

decay slope,

and thus all earthquakes above this si3e will

have a constant magnitude M (0ay 1 2allace

1&&,). This is known as magnitude

saturation, and is particularly prevalent in the

m

b

and the M

S

scales. /or e#ample, M

S

starts

to saturate at around M

S

4 !.-, and is fully

saturated by appro#imately M

S

4 %.". The

saturation of the M

S

scale towards larger

magnitude earthquakes may cause the self-

similarity to break down at higher

magnitudes.

The M

W

scale doesn5t show as marked break

down in self-similarity, and the b-value is

broadly similar. 6nlike the M

S

scale, the M

W

scale does not e#perience saturation at higher

magnitudes, since it is derived from the

relationship between the moment and energy

of an earthquake. $ence, it is likely to give a

better representation of earthquakes at higher

magnitudes. 7n addition, since the moment of

an earthquake is calculated using only the

low frequency spectra of surface-waves, the

corner frequencies are easy to determine even

from earthquakes at large depths.

'lthough the M

W

data shows a more linear fit,

i.e. the b-value stays closer to 1, there is still

a slight breakdown in the fractal relationship

at high magnitudes. .ince M

W

scales are not

affected by saturation and are not likely to

miss deep earthquakes, the failure in the self-

similarity may be e#plained by smaller

earthquakes dominating most global

catalogues, and therefore making the

frequency-si3e distributions biased by small

earthquakes (8acheo 1 .chol3 1&&,).

'nother possibility is that self-similarity

breaks down because of changing fault

parameters in high order magnitude events.

7nvestigating the relationship between earthquake magnitude and frequency of occurrence

9$'R07: ;:<=7:

Department of art! Science" #niver$ity of Dur!am 2%13

Relationships between faulting parameters and

the actual rupture process provide scaling

relations that govern the fractal behaviour of

earthquakes. 7f the faulting parameters or rupture

process change in high magnitude earthquakes,

then conditions will not be adequate for self-

similarity.

8aceho 1 .chol3 (1&&,), who corrected for the b-

value biased discussed above, suggest that a

break in self-similarity occurs at a point where

the dimension of the event equals the down-dip

width of the seismogenic layer. /or smaller

magnitude earthquakes, rupture length and

rupture width scale in the same manner,

independent of faulting mechanism. $owever for

large earthquakes, with strike-slip mechanisms,

the self-similarity breaks down due to the

limitation on rupture width caused by the

thickness of the seismogenic layer (.tock 1

.mith -""").

The breakdown in b-value observed at small

magnitudes may also be caused by changes in

scaling relationships. /igure * below shows the

worldwide frequency of earthquakes from 1&&" >

-"1- (6.G. -"1*). There is an even larger

change in the b-value for small magnitude events,

indicating a much more prominent break down in

self-similarity.

Fig.2 ' semi-log plot showing the cumulative number of

different magnitude earthquakes worldwide from 1&&" >

-"1-. <ote the very marked deviation from earthquake self-

similarity at low magnitudes. (:ngdahl 1 ?illasenor -""-).

The observed frequency magnitude relation

departs from self-similarity with magnitudes

smaller than about @. The fractal relationship of

larger earthquakes assume a fi#ed value of critical

weakening slip. This is where the slip-weakening

failure criterion, given by the critical slip 3one

and the cohesive 3one, are roughly

comparable to the width of the fault 3one

('ki 1&%!). 7t is estimated that there is a

minimum magnitude at which the critical

weakening slip is fi#ed (ietrich 1&!&).

:arthquakes of smaller magnitudes are

possible, but only with a smaller value of

critical slip, which causes the self-similarity

assumed for larger earthquakes to break

down.

'dditionally, it is well known that self-

similarity at lower magnitudes break down

because earthquakes are too small to be

detected by current seismometer installations.

Therefore, it is assumed that there are a large

number of small magnitude earthquakes

missing from the seismic catalogue.

$owever, some micro-seismicity studies

using bore holes have shown that local

magnitudes M

&

retain self-similarity down to

appro#imately M

&

= %.' ('bercrombie 1&&A)

and suggest that changes in self-similarity for

low magnitude earthquakes result from

catalogue incompleteness alone, and not due

to changing source parameters as discussed

previously.

(-value$

The b-value of the M

S

plot is higher than

e#pected because, as discussed previously,

the self-similarity of the M

S

scale breaks

down at high magnitudes due to missing

events from the catalogue and magnitude

saturation. .imilarly, the b-value of the M

W

plot is also larger than e#pected. This is likely

to be caused by changing fault parameters at

larger magnitudes (.tock 1 .mith -""").

'dditionally, the best fits achieved by - lines,

b

1

and b

2

, b

1

= 1." and b

2

= 1.& for the M

S

scale and b

1

= 1." and b

2

= 1.* for the M

W

scale, broadly agree with results from 8acheo

and .chol3 (1&&-) along with numerical

predictions made by Rundle (1&%&),

suggesting that different fault parameters,

brought about by the limitation on rupture

width in large strike-slip mechanisms,

present a slightly higher b-value and cause a

break down of self-similarity for high

magnitude earthquakes.

!""#$%&'

CHARLIE KENZIE

b

1

b

2

b

b

1

b

2

b

Semi-log plot oI the cumulative number oI diIIerent surIace-wave

magnitude earthquakes above magnitude 7.0. Note the marked change Irom

earthquake selI-similarity, b-value 1, Ior large magnitude earthquakes.

Semi-log plot oI the cumulative number oI diIIerent moment-magnitude

earthquakes above magnitude 7.0. Less oI a breakdown oI selI-similarity,

but still a deviation Irom b-value 1.

B 1.2

b

1

1.0

b

2

1.3

B 1.3

b

1

1.0

b

2

1.9

Earthquake data taken from USGS National Earthquake Information Centre (Engdahl & Villasenor 2002)

REFERENCES

ABERCROMBIE, R. E. (1996). The magnitude-frequency distribution of earthquakes recorded with deep seismometers at Cajon Pass, southern

California. Tectonophysics , 261, 1-7.

AKI, K. (1987). Magnitude-frequency relation for small earthquakes: a clue to the origin of fmax of large earthquakes. Journal of Geophysical Research ,

92, 1349-1355.

ENGDAHL, E. R., & Villasenor, A. (2002). Global Seismicity: 1900-1999. (H. K. W.H.K. Lee, Ed.) International Handbook of Earthquake and

Engineering Seismology , Part A (Chapter 41), pp. 665-690.

FOWLER, C. M. (2005). Earthquake Seismology. In C. M. Fowler, The Solid Earth: An Introduction to Global Geophysics (pp. 122-125). London:

Cambridge University Press.

KANAMORI, H. (1977). The energy release in great earthquakes. Journal of Geophysical Research , 82 (20), 2981-2987.

LAY, T., & Wallace, T. C. (2005). Scaling and Earthquake Self-Similarity. In T. Lay, & T. C. Wallace, Modern Global Seismology (pp. 388-341). San

Diego: Academic Press.

PACHECO, J. F., Scholz, C. H., & Sykes, L. R. (1992). Changes in frequency-size relationship from small to large earthquakes. Nature , 355, 71-73.

STOCK, C., & Smith, E. G. (2000). Evidence for different scaling of earthquake source parameters for large earthquakes depending on faulting

mechanism. Geophysics Journal International , 143, 157-162.

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