Space-time structures of earthquakes
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Using the United States Geological Survey global daily data sets for 31 years, we have tabulated the earthquake intensities on a global latitude longitude grid and represented them as a finite sum of spherical harmonics. An interesting aspect of this global view of earthquakes is that we see a low frequency modulation in the amplitudes of the spherical harmonic waves. There are periods when these waves carry larger amplitudes compared to other periods. A power spectral analysis of these amplitudes clearly shows the presence of a low frequency oscillation in time with a largest mode around 40 days. That period also coincides with a well-know period in the atmosphere and in the ocean called the Madden Julian Oscillation. This paper also illustrates the existence of a spatial oscillation in strong earthquake occurrences on the western rim of the Pacific plate. These are like pendulum oscillations in the earthquake frequencies that swing north or south along the western rim at these periods. The spatial amplitude of the oscillation is nearly 10,000 km and occurs on an intraseasonal time scale of 20–60 days. A 34-year long United States Geological Survey earthquake database was examined in this context; this roughly exhibited 69 swings of these oscillations. Spectral analysis supports the intraseasonal timescale, and also reveals higher frequencies on a 7–10 day time scale. These space-time characteristics of these pendulum-like earthquake oscillations are similar to those of the MJO. Fluctuations in the length of day on this time scale are also connected to the MJO. Inasmuch as the atmospheric component of the MJO will torque the solid earth through mountain stresses, we speculate the MJO and our proposed earthquake cycle may be connected. The closeness of these periods calls for future study.
KeywordsMadden Julian Oscillation Solid Earth United States Geological Survey Earthquake Occurrence Pacific Plate
We acknowledge NSF grants ATM-0419618, OCE-242535 and OCE-0424227.
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