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Geodynamics Research International Bulletin (GRIB), Vol. (II) No.

02, SN:06, Summer 2014 All rights reserved for GRIB



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Geodynamics Research International Bulletin (GRIB), Vol. (II) No. 02, SN:06, Summer 2014 All rights reserved for GRIB

Monitoring the Variations of b-Value and Seismicity in the Makran
Ranges, the Absence of a Notable Event in West of Makran
Subduction Zone
Jamileh Vasheghani Farahani

Institute of Geophysics, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran
Email: j_farahani@ut.ac.ir
Article History: Received: May. 11, 2014 Reviewed: May. 19, 2014
Revised: Jul. 22, 2014 Accepted: Aug. 15, 2014 Published: Sep. 16, 2014
ABSTRACT
The Makran subduction zone (MSZ) is situated in the south-eastern coast of Iran. Previous studies on historical earthquakes of
Makran subduction zone indicate that the eastern part of the zone is more active compared to the western part. The important
instrumental earthquake in this region was an earthquake which occurred on 16 April, 2013 with a magnitude of Mw=7.8
(USGS) in Sistan and Baluchestan province (north-west of Saravan). In the western part, we had just a historical earthquake
which occurred in 1483. The region in this study is limited to 56-63 E and 25-29N. In the western part of this region, an
earthquake occurred recently with a magnitude of Mw=6.2 in Hormozgan province. We examined variations of b-values with
time as a method that have b-values a precursory potential or not. It is suggested that b-value studies may be useful for estimating
seismic gap or aseismic area in some regions and prediction of earthquake. It is believed that areas with low b-values may show
asperities and for high b-values in the areas forecast creeping. Therefore, it is suggested that this idea must be investigated in
different areas.
Keywords: Makran Subduction Zone (MSZ), B-Value, Earthquake Prediction, Saravan, Sistan and Baluchistan, Iran
1. INTRODUCTION
A useful parameter in seismology studies is the b-
value. In this research, it was tried to investigate the
b-value distributions for recent earthquakes in Sistan
and Baluchestan and Hormozgan provinces with
magnitude greater than 6.0. The Mw=7.8 (USGS)
earthquake occurred at 10:44:17 UTC (local time:
15:14:17) on 16 April, 2013 in NW of Saravan
region, SE Iran, approximately 82 km beneath the
Earths surface. Moreover, another important event
in the region occurred on May 11, 2013, with
Mw=6.2.
The b-value is calculated from the magnitude-
frequency distribution (FMD) relation. The b-value
relation is shown by Gutenberg-Richter law in 1954:
(1) Log N a bM =
where N is the cumulative number of earthquakes, a
and b are constants. The slope of the FMD
distribution is the b-value. The a-value indicates
seismicity in region and b-value depends on the
stress regime and tectonic character of the region
(Allen et al., 1965; Mogi, 1967; Scholz, 1968;
Hatzidimitriou et al., 1985; Tsapanos, 1990). Bufe,
1970 and Gibowicz, 1973 believed that variations of
b-value were inversely related to the variations in the
stress level. In 1981, Kanamori stated that the stress
is high in areas with smaller b-value. Therefore,
decreasing b in the examined region may show
increasing stress level before mainshocks.
Moreover, b-value in equation (1) can be obtained by
methods such as linear least squares regression or
maximum-likelihood using the equation (Aki, 1965;
Ustu, 1965; Bender, 1983):
(2)
min
log b e
M M
=

1

where M denotes the mean magnitude and
min
M the
minimum magnitude of the given sample. The
assessment of
min
M is related to the magnitude
distribution (Equ. 1). The minimum magnitude can
be determined by plotting the cumulative number of
events as a function of magnitude (Fig. 1). The
magnitude of completeness,
c
M , is corrected by
/ 2 M to compensate for the bias of rounding
magnitude to the nearest M bin (Nuannin, 2006).
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Geodynamics Research International Bulletin (GRIB), Vol. (II) No. 02, SN:06, Summer 2014 All rights reserved for GRIB
2. MATERIALS AND METHODS
2. 1.TECTONIC SETTINGS
Earthquake in Apr. 16, 2013 (Mw=7.8) occurred as a
result of normal faulting. The convergence between
the Eurasian and Arabian plates has resulted in nearly
1,000-km-long Makran subduction zone. This region
was divided into eastern and western parts by Byrne
et al. in 1992. The western and eastern parts of the
Makran in Iran are limited to Minab and Ornach- Nal
faults. The borders of the Makran area are all rather
complex tectonic features. Major transpressional
strike slip systems, the Ornach- Nal and Chaman
fault zones shape the eastern part of Makran and
adapt the motion between the Eurasian plate and the
western part of the Indian plate (Byrne et al., 1992).
Kopp et al. in 2000 believed that Makran is one of
the largest accretionary wedges on Earth, and is
characterized by a reportedly high sediment thickness
of about 7 km.
The sedimentary hanging wall of the main
dcollement is folded and imbricated in the modern
accretionary prism (e.g. White and Louden, 1982;
EllouzZimmermann et al., 2007b; Grando and
McClay, 2007; Haghipour, 2013). Szeliga et al.
(2012) have stated that the only available
geodetically measured inter-seismic velocities in the
region propose that in addition to slip on the Ornach
Nal fault, 1 cm/yr of strike-slip motion must be
accounted for in the direction parallel to the 2013
rupture trace, while 0.5 cm/yr of convergence builds
up in the fault normal direction (Jolivet et al., 2013).
It has been checked that convergence rate is different
between eastern and western Makran. It is about 3-7
mm/yr higher rate in eastern Makran (Gripp and
Gordon, (1990); Argus and Gordon, (1991); DeMets
et al., (1994); McClusky et al., (2000); Drewes
(1998); Drewes and Angermann (2001); Gripp and
Gordon (2002); Sella et al., (2002); Kreemer et al.
(2003); McClusky et al. (2003); Prawirodirdjo and
Bock (2004); Vernant et al. (2004); Reilinger et al.,
(2006); Drewes (2009); DeMets et al. (2010); Argus
et al., (2010). Moreover, DeMets et al. (2010)
showed that the results using space geodesy are 5-15
mm/yr smaller than geologic results. Vernant et al.,
(2004) researches by GPS data suggested that Arabia
converges toward southern Iran at velocity of 23
2mm/yr near the western termination of the Makran
subduction, less than the time averaged velocity of
36.5 mm/yr based on the NUVEL 1 model (DeMets
et al., 1990). GPS data displays an eastward increase
in convergence rate, from 11 2 mm/yr at Jask to 19
2 mm/yr at Chabahar (Vernant et al., 2004). Other
researches by Bayer et al. (2006); Apel et al., (2006)
confirm the greater convergence rate at eastern part
(located in Chabahar) compared with western part
(located in Jask). Recent GPS data show an increase
easterly in plate convergence rates (Rajendran et al.,
2012).
2. 2. SEISMICITY
The main event along the Makran Coast occurred in
1945 (Mw=8.1). Saravan earthquake (Mw=7.8)
occurred in the eastern end of Makran (Fig. 1), and it
had 41 victims (40 people in Pakistan and one person
in Iran) and more than 180 injuries. Tremors were
felt across Pakistan, north-western India and in the
Persian Gulf region.
Moreover, some moderate and large earthquakes
occurred in Saravan, including: M= 6.7 on April 18,
1983; M=6.9; June 13, 1934; M=5.5 and January, 14
2003. Fig. (2) shows the location of these
earthquakes around the Saravan Earthquake location
(Mw=7.8).

Fig. 1. Seismicity map of the mainshock area recorded by BIN and IRSC Networks.
Geodynamics Research International Bulletin (GRIB), Vol. (II) No. 02, SN:06, Summer 2014 All rights reserved for GRIB

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Geodynamics Research International Bulletin (GRIB), Vol. (II) No. 02, SN:06, Summer 2014 All rights reserved for GRIB
Another important event which recently occurred in
the Makran zone was Goharan earthquake (Mw=6.2)
in SE Iran on May 11, 2013 (Figs. 1 and 3). This
event was around the Minab- Zendan fault zone. Fig.
(3) shows the aftershock sequences (until March
2014). Besides, this earthquake had two foreshocks
with magnitudes M=4.7 and M=3.5 which occurred
on 9 May 2013. These events before mainshock were
very helpful in the region. Zare et al. (2013) reported
that the foreshock on May 9, 2013 produced a
preliminary alert at midday. This event led to
evacuation of the residents and then, they moved to
the local tents named Kapar. As a result, the death
toll was limited to one person in Irar village in
Goharan, SE Iran.

Fig. 2. Seismicity map of limited to the region of Saravan and some important earthquakes in the region.

Fig. 3. Seismicity and aftershocks map in region of Goharan (SE Iran, earthquake of 11 May 2013, Mw6.2)
Geodynamics Research International Bulletin (GRIB), Vol. (II) No. 02, SN:06, Summer 2014 All rights reserved for GRIB

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Geodynamics Research International Bulletin (GRIB), Vol. (II) No. 02, SN:06, Summer 2014 All rights reserved for GRIB
2.3. FREQUENCY MAGNITUDE
DISTRIBUTION FOR THE REGION
There are different ways to calculate the b-values.
The maximum likelihood method is the most
common way that was also used by Aki, 1965.
Fig. (4) shows the G-R relationship and the
magnitude of completeness,
c
M , for data in Saravan
region before main shock (from 1900 to before April
16, 2013). This Figure is an example for showing
some information for a and b-value and
c
M .

Fig. 4. a) Frequency-magnitude distribution of data before Saravan earthquake (left panel) and b) aftershocks (right panel) of the main-shock
(April 16, 2013) recorded by BIN and IRSC.
The results of the frequency-magnitude distributions
are presented in Figs. 4 (a, b) and shows that the b-
values are significantly different. Differences
between data before occurrence of the main shock
and after it confirm that the lower values of b
correspond well with those of the area under
increased stress. The b-value distribution for the
aftershocks of Saravan earthquake shows significant
changes in the area. It was observed that the b-value
increased significantly, from 0.746 for the data
before main shock to 1.06 after the main shock in the
region.
Fig. (5) depicts Frequency-magnitude distribution of
data before Goharan earthquake (main shock, Mw=
6.2) using just BIN catalog.

Fig. 5. a) Frequency-magnitude distribution of data before Goharan earthquake (left panel) and b) aftershocks (right panel) of the mainshock
(May 11, 2013) recorded by BIN from 1990 to May 11, 2013.
Fig. (6) is another example of FMD for Goharan
region by both catalogs from Broadband Iranian
Network (BIN) and Iranian Seismological Center
(IRSC). The slope of red line corresponds to the b-
value. We tried to merge both Networks for
improving the quality of earthquake catalogs that
helped us to increase the accuracy of b-value
investigation. Therefore, it was found that the
reliability of our research improves with our data and
it increases the reliability of the resulting b-values
2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5 5.5 6 6.5 7
10
0
10
1
10
2
Magnitude
C
u
m
u
l
a
t
i
v
e

N
u
m
b
e
r
Mc
b-value = 0.746 +/- 0.1, a value = 5.04
a value (annual) = 3.11
Magnitude of Completeness = 4.7
2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5 5.5 6
10
0
10
1
Magnitude
C
u
m
u
l
a
t
i
v
e

N
u
m
b
e
r
Mc
b-value = 1.06 +/- 0.3, a value = 5.52
a value (annual) = 5.63
Magni tude of Completeness = 4.1
2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5 5.5 6
10
0
10
1
10
2
Magnitude
C
u
m
u
l
a
t
i
v
e

N
u
m
b
e
r
Mc
b-value = 0.572 +/- 0.03, a value = 4.07,
a value (annual) = 2.71
Magnitude of Completeness = 3.2
3 3.5 4 4.5 5 5.5 6
10
0
10
1
10
2
Magnitude
C
u
m
u
l
a
t
i
v
e

N
u
m
b
e
r
Mc
b-value = 0.775 +/- 0.08, a value = 4.79
a value (annual) = 5.79
Magnitude of Completeness = 3.9
a
b
Geodynamics Research International Bulletin (GRIB), Vol. (II) No. 02, SN:06, Summer 2014 All rights reserved for GRIB

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Geodynamics Research International Bulletin (GRIB), Vol. (II) No. 02, SN:06, Summer 2014 All rights reserved for GRIB
and hazard mitigation. The Figures show that the b-
values in these two areas (east and west of the study
area) are different. Therefore, variations in b for two
areas were attributed to differences in stress and
material heterogeneity. These differences can be of
great importance for evaluation of the threat of
earthquake in the region.

Fig. 6. a) Frequency-magnitude distribution of data before mainshock, Mw=6.2 (left panel) and b) after mainshock (right panel) by merging data
(BIN and IRSC), respectively.
2. 4. VARIATIONS OF B-VALUE WITH TIME
Monitoring of b-value changes is essential for
understanding the earthquake hazard mitigation. This
study concentrates on the determination of the b-
value as a function of time for earthquakes in the
Makran ranges. The present study examined this
method as an earthquake precursor for hazard
assessment. It was also tried to investigate its
potential as a method in a limited area for showing
temporal variations of b-values before large events.
Urbancic et al., 1992 and Wyss, 1973 believed that
an increase in effective stress results in a decrease in
b-value. Monitoring temporal changes in b-value for
different lengths of time such as short, medium or
long is a very important method for prediction of
hazards in the areas.
Sammonds et al. (1992) studied temporal b-value
variations. Their results showed that large
earthquakes often came before a medium-term
increase in b and then followed by a reduction in the
weeks-months before the main shock.
The earthquake on April 16, 2013 in NW Saravan
was investigated in this study and variations of b-
value with time were investigated. The data in Fig.
(7) shows the test for understanding variations of b-
value with time.
A sliding time-window containing 70 events was
used for the data in the BIN and IRSC catalog.
Selecting the number of records in the window is a
compromise between the time resolution and
smoothing effect of broad windows (Nuannin et al.,
2005). The number of records in the window such as
50, 75, 150 and 200 were tested. Moreover, the step
length was also changed, but it didnt affect the
resolution.
Fig. 7 in three panels indicates the development of b-
value and standard deviation:
a) From 1960 to 2014 for BIN catalog from
International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and
Seismology, M2.5;
b) IRSC catalog from Institute of Geophysics, Tehran
University with M1.6;
c) Total data from BIN and IRSC catalog in the area
under study. An increase in b-value occurred after
the main shock.
Moreover, it followed by a decrease before the major
event in all the three graphs about weeks-months
before the earthquake. This increase in the b-value
proposes that there is a quiescence anomaly in the
region (Fig. 7). A significant decrease in b (t) is
followed by an increase in occurrence of large events
in the region.
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
10
0
10
1
10
2
10
3
Magnitude
C
u
m
u
l
a
t
i
v
e

N
u
m
b
e
r
Mc
b-value = 0.565 +/- 0.01, a value = 4.72
a value (annual) = 3.36
Magnitude of Completeness = 3.1
1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5 5.5 6
10
0
10
1
10
2
Magnitude
C
u
m
u
l
a
t
i
v
e

N
u
m
b
e
r
Mc
b-value = 0.763 +/- 0.06, a value = 4.8
a value (annual) = 4.83
Magni tude of Completeness = 3.7
b
a
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Geodynamics Research International Bulletin (GRIB), Vol. (II) No. 02, SN:06, Summer 2014 All rights reserved for GRIB

a) BIN Catalog (1960-2014)

b) IRSC Data (2006-2014)

C) Data (BIN + IRSC)
Fig. 7. b(t) of the Makran region during 1950-2014, data from a)
BIN catalog, b)IRSC catalog and c) BIN and IRSC catalog.
Arrows mark in the three graph show the occurrence time of
mainshock event. Dotted lines indicate standard deviation in three
graphs.
An earthquake occurred in Iran(Goharan), SE Iran on
May 11, 2013, Mw=6.2 (Fig. 3). A significant
decrease can be observed in the b(t) curve for this
earthquake (Fig. 8) which is indicative of a good
agreement between a sudden decrease in b(t) and the
occurrence of a large and strong earthquakes. Fig. (3)
displayed the seismicity of the region and the
location of Goharan earthquake. Therefore, an
increase in b-value occurred after 2010. There is a
distinct drop in b (t) before 2013. The data of the
study area in these Figures are related to the period
before May 11, 2013. The May 11, 2013 shock
(Mw=6.2) occurred in the low b-value area.

Fig. 8. b(t) of the Goharan region during 1960-2014 (BIN and
IRSC catalog).
3. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
Historical and instrumental records in the MSZ have
shown that seismicity in eastern Makran is more
active than western Makran. The first instrumentally
event in the Makran region occurred on November
28, 1945 with M=8.1. Our data indicated that
monitoring the variation of b-values and seismicity
before and after main shocks could help us to identify
the seismic activity in the region.
In this study, we tried to detect variations of b-value
in the Makran subduction zone by data from BIN and
IRSC networks. Our study showed that the main
shocks occurred where variations of b-value
decreased before these earthquakes. After a
comparison between b-values before and after main
shocks, we have observed a significant decrease of b-
values several months before the main shock (April
16, 2013) in the region. Besides, we tested this
method for earthquake on May 11, 2013 that it is
also consistent with this conclusion. Our evidences
from b-value studies, especially the variation of b-
values was analyzed by frequency magnitude
distribution data in the region (56-63
o
E and 25- 29
o

N) displayed that the western part of the area has
significant hazard. In this part, b-value variations are
1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
1.2
1.4
1.6
1.8
2
b
-
v
a
l
u
e
Time ( year)


b-value
b
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
0
0.5
1
1.5
2
b
-
v
a
l
u
e
Time( year)


b-value
b
1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
1.2
1.4
1.6
1.8
2
b
-
v
a
l
u
e
Time ( year)


b-value
b
1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
1.2
1.4
1.6
1.8
2
b
-
v
a
l
u
e
Time (year)


b-value
b
11 May 2013
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Geodynamics Research International Bulletin (GRIB), Vol. (II) No. 02, SN:06, Summer 2014 All rights reserved for GRIB
lower than the eastern part. Moreover, based on the
instrumentally data from IRSC and BIN Networks
(Figs. 9 a, b), there is an absence of notable large
events (M6) in the center of the region and a major
earthquake in the western part of MSZ that is visible
in seismicity data of the region.

Fig. 9. a, b- Seismicity map and location of an important historical earthquake in the western part; location map of seismic quiescence, red oval
shape in the Makran ranges, respectively. Asterisks represent earthquakes with magnitude more than 6.
On the other hand, GPS data studies have shown that
there is a differential movement between Oman and
Iran, and the shortening rate is about 1.95 cm/yr. This
event proves that there is an active subduction in the
region (Masson et al., 2007). Vernant et al., (2004)
have suggested that the convergence rate is 112
mm/yr at Jask, and it increases to 192 mm/yr at
Chabahar. Therefore, the evidence shows that the
seismicity in the western and eastern Makran is not
the same. In the western part of the study area and
the western part of Makran no earthquake with a
magnitude bigger than 6.5 has been recorded.
Moreover, Rajendran et al., (2013) believed that
historical data by Ambraseys and Melville (1982)
seem ambiguous and incomplete as for the size and
location of earthquakes in the western part of
Makran. In addition, they have suggested that the
recent studies by Musson (2009) indicate a historical
event during AD 1483 in the study area in western
Makran (Fig. 9 a). a historical earthquake about more
than 500 years ago had happened in the region. This
long gap might lead to an important earthquake.
Thus, we believe that this region needs more
attention. Moreover, Minab- Zendan Fault system in
western part of the region is an important fault whose
lack of seismicity needs to be noted. This part of the
region may produce major events in the future. The
observed aseismic portion of Makran zone -Figs. 9 (a
and b)- has a high potential for future earthquakes.
Therefore, seismic monitoring in this area of Makran
b
a
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Geodynamics Research International Bulletin (GRIB), Vol. (II) No. 02, SN:06, Summer 2014 All rights reserved for GRIB
provides increasingly better insights on the absence
of earthquake and the occurrence of large
earthquakes in space and time. We detected a
significant decrease of seismic b-values before
mainshock can be a strong method for studies of
future earthquakes in various places. Determination
of the b-value with time can be a useful research as
an earthquake precursor.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The author would like to appreciate for the data used
in this study that were recorded by Broadband
Iranian National Network Center (BIN) and Iranian
Seismological Center (IRSC) Networks. The data
obtained from the International Institute of
Earthquake Engineering and Seismology (IIEES) and
Institute of Geophysics, University of Tehran web
sites.
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