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Estimation of seismic hazard and risks for the Himalayas and surrounding regions based on Unified Scaling Law for Earthquakes


To estimate seismic hazard, the basic law of seismicity, the Gutenberg–Richter recurrence relation, is applied in a modified form involving a spatial term: \(\log N\left( {M,\;L} \right) = A - B\left( {M - 5} \right) + C\log L\), where N(M,L) is the expected annual number of earthquakes of a certain magnitude M within an area of linear size L. The parameters A, B, and C of this Unified Scaling Law for Earthquakes (USLE) in the Himalayas and surrounding regions have been studied on the basis of a variable space and time-scale approach. The observed temporal variability of the A, B, and C coefficients indicates significant changes of seismic activity at the time scales of a few decades. At global scale, the value of A ranges mainly between −1.0 and 0.5, which determines the average rate of earthquakes that accordingly differs by a factor of 30 or more. The value of B concentrates about 0.9 ranging from under 0.6 to above 1.1, while the fractal dimension of the local seismic prone setting, C, changes from 0.5 to 1.4 and larger. For Himalayan region, the values of A, B, and C have been estimated mainly ranging from −1.6 to −1.0, from 0.8 to 1.3, and from 1.0 to 1.4, respectively. We have used the deterministic approach to map the local value of the expected peak ground acceleration (PGA) from the USLE estimated maximum magnitude or, if reliable estimation was not possible, from the observed maximum magnitude during 1900–2012. In result, the seismic hazard map of the Himalayas with spatially distributed PGA was prepared. Further, an attempt is made to generate a series of the earthquake risk maps of the region based on the population density exposed to the seismic hazard.

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The authors acknowledge the financial support from the RFBR-DST Project “Seismic hazard and risk assessment based on pattern recognition: Himalayas and adjacent territories” (Grants RFBR No. 11-05-92691 and DST No. INT/RFBR/P-109). We also would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive suggestions and critical reviews to improve the quality of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Imtiyaz A. Parvez.

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Parvez, I.A., Nekrasova, A. & Kossobokov, V. Estimation of seismic hazard and risks for the Himalayas and surrounding regions based on Unified Scaling Law for Earthquakes. Nat Hazards 71, 549–562 (2014).

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  • Himalayas
  • Seismic hazard
  • Unified Scaling Law
  • Seismic risk