pure and applied geophysics

, Volume 161, Issue 8, pp 1655–1681 | Cite as

Estimation of the Maximum Earthquake Magnitude, m max

  • Andrzej KijkoEmail author


This paper provides a generic equation for the evaluation of the maximum earthquake magnitude m max for a given seismogenic zone or entire region. The equation is capable of generating solutions in different forms, depending on the assumptions of the statistical distribution model and/or the available information regarding past seismicity. It includes the cases (i) when earthquake magnitudes are distributed according to the doubly-truncated Gutenberg-Richter relation, (ii) when the empirical magnitude distribution deviates moderately from the Gutenberg-Richter relation, and (iii) when no specific type of magnitude distribution is assumed. Both synthetic, Monte-Carlo simulated seismic event catalogues, and actual data from Southern California, are used to demonstrate the procedures given for the evaluation of m max.

The three estimates of m max for Southern California, obtained by the three procedures mentioned above, are respectively: 8.32 ± 0.43, 8.31 ± 0.42 and 8.34 ± 0.45. All three estimates are nearly identical, although higher than the value 7.99 obtained by Field et al. (1999). In general, since the third procedure is non-parametric and does not require specification of the functional form of the magnitude distribution, its estimate of the maximum earthquake magnitude m max is considered more reliable than the other two which are based on the Gutenberg-Richter relation.

Key words

Seismic hazard maximum earthquake magnitude mmax 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Council for GeosciencePreloniaSouth Africa

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