Assessment of Creep Events as Potential Earthquake Precursors: Application to the Creeping Section of the San Andreas Fault, California

Abstract

—We report the analysis of over 16 years of fault creep and seismicity data from part of the creeping section of the San Andreas fault to examine and assess the temporal association between creep events and subsequent earthquakes. The goal is to make a long-term evaluation of creep events as a potential earthquake precursor. We constructed a catalog of creep events from available digital creepmeter data and compared it to a declustered seismicity catalog for the area between San Juan Bautista and San Benito, California, for 1980 to 1996. For magnitude thresholds of 3.8 and above and time windows of 5 to 10 days, we find relatively high success rates (40% to 55% 'hits') but also very high false alarm rates (generally above 90%). These success rates are statistically significant (0.0007 < P < 0.04). We also tested the actual creep event catalog against two different types of synthetic seismicity catalogs, and found that creep events are followed closely in time by earthquakes from the real catalog far more frequently than the average for the synthetic catalogs, generally by more than two standard deviations. We find no identifiable spatial pattern between the creep events and earthquakes that are hit or missed. We conclude that there is a significant temporal correlation between creep events and subsequent small to moderate earthquakes, however that additional information (such as from other potential precursory phenomena) is required to reduce the false alarm rate to an acceptable level.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Additional information

Received March 18, 1998, accepted June 1, 1998.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Thurber, C., Sessions, R. Assessment of Creep Events as Potential Earthquake Precursors: Application to the Creeping Section of the San Andreas Fault, California. Pure appl. geophys. 152, 685–705 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1007/s000240050172

Download citation

  • Key words: Creep, precursors, earthquake, prediction, San Andreas fault.