Skip to main content

Evolving Towards a Critical Point: A Review of Accelerating Seismic Moment/Energy Release Prior to Large and Great Earthquakes

  • Chapter

Part of the Pageoph Topical Volumes book series (PTV)

Abstract

There is growing evidence that some proportion of large and great earthquakes are preceded by a period of accelerating seismic activity of moderate-sized earthquakes. These moderate earthquakes occur during the years to decades prior to the occurrence of the large or great event and over a region larger than its rupture zone. The size of the region in which these moderate earthquakes occur scales with the size of the ensuing mainshock, at least in continental regions. A number of numerical simulation studies of faults and fault systems also exhibit similar behavior. The combined observational and simulation evidence suggests that the period of increased moment release in moderate earthquakes signals the establishment of long wavelength correlations in the regional stress field. The central hypothesis in the critical point model for regional seismicity is that it is only during these time periods that a region of the earth’s crust is truly in or near a “self-organized critical” (SOC) state, such that small earthquakes are capable of cascading into much larger events. The occurrence of a large or great earthquake appears to dissipate a sufficient proportion of the accumulated regional strain to destroy these long wavelength stress correlations and bring the region out of a SOC state. Continued tectonic strain accumulation and stress transfer during smaller earthquakes eventually re-establishes the long wavelength stress correlations that allow for the occurrence of larger events. These increases in activity occur over longer periods and larger regions than quiescence, which is usually observed within the rupture zone of a coming large event. The two phenomena appear to have different physical bases and are not incompatible with one another.

Key words

  • Accelerating seismic moment/energy
  • earthquake forecasting
  • critical point hypothesis
  • self-organized criticality
  • stress correlations

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

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-0348-8677-2_5
  • Chapter length: 27 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   74.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-0348-8677-2
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   99.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  • Australian Geological Survey Organization (1996), Monthly Report On Australian Earthquakes 96/5A.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ben-Zion, Y. (1996), Stress, Slip, and Earthquakes in Models of Complex Single fault Systems Incorporating Brittle and Creep Deformations, J. Geophys. Res. 101, 5677–5706.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bowman, J. R. (1992), The 1988 Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, Earthquakes: A Synthesis, Aust. J. Earth Sci. 39, 651–699.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bowman, D. D., Ouillon, G., Sammis, C. G., Sornette, D., and Sornette, A. (1998), An Observational Test of the Critical Earthquake Concept, J. Geophys. Res. 103, 24,359–24,372.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Brehm, D. J., and Braile, L. W. (1998), Intermediate-term Prediction Using Precursory Events in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 88, 564–580.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bufe, C. G., and Varnes, D. J. (1993), Predictive Modeling of the Seismic Cycle in the Greater San Francisco Bay Region, J. Geophys. Res. 98, 9871–9983.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bufe, C. G., Jaumé, S. C., Nishenko, S. P., Sykes, L. R., and Varnes, D. J. (1990), Accelerating Moment Release in the Alaska Subduction Zone: Precursor to a Great Thrust Earthquake? (Abstract), EOS, Trans. AGU 71, 1451–1452.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bufe, C. G., Nishenko, S. P., and Varnes, D. J. (1992), Clustering and Potential for Large Earthquakes in the Alaska-Aleutian Region (Extended Abstract), Proc. Wadati Conf. on Great Subduction Earthquakes, University of Alaska, 129–132.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bufe, C. G., Varnes, D. J., and Nishenko, S. P. (1993), A Nonlinear Time-and Slip predictable Model for Foreshocks (Abstract) EOS, Trans. AGU 1993 Fall Meeting Suppl. 74, 437.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bufe, C. G., Nishenko, S. P., and Varnes, D. J. (1994a), Seismicity Trends and Potential for Large Earthquakes in the Alaska-Aleutian Region, Pure appl. geophys. 142, 83–99.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bufe, C. G., Varnes, D. J., and Nishenko, S. P. (1994b), Long-term Seismicity Patterns and Pre-earthquake Failure Processes (Abstract) EOS, Trans. AGU 1994 Fall Meeting Suppl. 75, 434.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bufe, C. G., Varnes, D. J., and Nishenko, S. P. (1996), Time-to-failure in the Alaska-Aleutian Region: An Update (Abstract), EOS, Trans. AGU, 1996, Fall Meeting Suppl. 77, F456.

    Google Scholar 

  • Das, S., and Kostrov, B. V. (1990), Inversion for Seismic Slip Rate History and Distribution with Stabilizing Constraints: Application to the 1986 Andreanof Islands Earthquake, J. Geophys. Res. 95, 6899–6913.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Deng, J., and Sykes, L. R. (1997), Evolution of the Stress Field in Southern California and Triggering of Moderate-size Earthquakes: A 200-year Perspective, J. Geophys. Res. 102, 9859–9886.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Ellsworth, W. L., Lindh, A. G., Prescott, W. H., and Herd, D. G., The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the seismic cycle. In Earthquake Prediction: An International Review (eds. Simpson, D. W., and Richards, P. G.) (AGU, Washington, D. C. 1981) pp. 126–140.

    Google Scholar 

  • Engdahl, E. R., and Rinehart, W. A., Seismicity map of North America project. In Neotectonics of North America (Geol. Soc. of Am., Boulder, Colo. 1991) pp. 21–27.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fedotov, S. A., The seismic cycle, quantitative seismic zoning, and long-term seismic forecasting. In Seismic Zoning of the USSR (ed. Medvedev, S.) (Idatel’stvo “Nauka”, Moscow 1968) pp. 133–166.

    Google Scholar 

  • Frankel, A. (1982), Precursors to a Magnitude 4.8 Earthquake in the Virgin Islands: Spatial Clustering of Small Earthquakes, Anomalous Focal Mechanisms, and Earthquake Doublets, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 72, 1277–1294.

    Google Scholar 

  • Frohlich, C., and Davis, S. D. (1993), Teleseismic b Values; or, Much Ado About 1.0, J. Geophys. Res. 98, 631–644.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Gross, S., and Rundle, J. (1998), A Systematic Test of Time-to-failure Analysis, Geophys. J. Int. 133, 57–64.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Gutenberg, B., and Richter, C. F., Seismicity of the Earth and Associated Phenomena (Hafner, New York 1954).

    Google Scholar 

  • Habermann, R. E. (1987), Man-made Changes in Seismicity Rates, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 77, 141–159.

    Google Scholar 

  • Heingartner, G. F., and Schwartz, D. P. (1996), Paleoseismic Evidence for Large Magnitude Earthquakes along the San Andreas Fault in the Southern Santa Cruz Mountains (Abstract), EOS, Trans. AGU 1996 Fall Meeting Suppl. 77, F462.

    Google Scholar 

  • House, L. S., Sykes, L. R., Davies, J. N., and Jacob, K. H. (1981),Identification of a possible seismic gap near Unalaska Island, eastern Aleutians, Alaska. In Earthquake Prediction, An International Review (eds. Simpson, D. W., and Richards, P. G.) (AGU, Washington, D.C. 1981) pp. 81–92.

    Google Scholar 

  • Huang, Y., Saleur, H., Sammis, C., and Sornette, D. (1998), Precursors, Aftershocks, Criticality and Self-organized Criticality, Europhys. Lett. 41, 43–48.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Imamura, A., Theoretical and Applied Seismology (Maruzen, Tokyo 1937).

    Google Scholar 

  • Jaumé, S. C. (1992), Moment Release Rate Variations during the Seismic Cycle in the Alaska-Aleutians Subduction Zone (Extended Abstract), Proc. Wadati Conf. on Great Subduction Earthquakes, University of Alaska, 123–128.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jaumé, S. C., and Estabrook, C. H. (1992), Accelerating Seismic Moment Release and Outer-rise Compression: Possible Precursors to the Next Great Earthquake in the Alaska Peninsula Region, Geophys. Res. Lett. 19, 345–348.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Jaumé, S. C., and Sykes, L. R. (1996), Evolution of Moderate Seismicity in the San Francisco Bay Region, 1850 to 1993: Seismicity Changes Related to the Occurrence of Large and Great Earthquakes, J. Geophys. Res. 101, 765–789.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Kelleher, J., and Savino, J. (1975), Distribution of Seismicity before Large Strike-slip and Thrust-type Earthquakes, J. Geophys. Res. 80, 260–271.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • King, G. C. P., Stein, R. S., and Lin, J. (1994), Static Stress Changes and the Triggering of Earthquakes, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 84, 935–953.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kisslinger, C., and Kikucht, M. (1997), Aftershocks of the Andreanof Islands Earthquake of June 10, 1996, and Local Seismotectonics, Geophys. Res. Lett. 24, 1883–1886.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Knopoff, L., Levshina, T., Keilis-Borok, V. I., and Mattoni, C. (1996), Increased Long-range Intermediate-magnitude Earthquake Activity prior to Strong Earthquakes in California, J. Geophys. Res. 101, 5779–5796.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Mogi, K. (1969), Some Features of Recent Seismic Activity in and near Japan (2). Activity before and after Great Earthquakes, Bull. Earthquake Res. Inst., Univ. Tokyo 47, 395–417.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mogi, K., Seismicity in western Japan and long-term earthquake forecasting. In Earthquake Prediction, An International Review (eds. Simpson, D. W., and Richards, P. G.) (AGU, Washington, D.C. 1981) pp. 43–51.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mogi, K., Earthquake Prediction (Tokyo, Academic Press 1985).

    Google Scholar 

  • Mogi, K. (1979), Two Kinds of Seismic Gaps, Pure appl. geophys. 117, 1172–1186.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Mogi, K. (1980), Seismic Activity: Earthquake Prediction in and around the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, Bull. Reg. Coord. Comm. Earthquake Prediction 2, 20–21 (in Japanese).

    Google Scholar 

  • Nishenko, S. P., and Jacob, K. H. (1990), Seismic Potential of the Queen Charlotte-Alaska-Aleutian Seismic Zone, J. Geophys. Res. 95, 2511–2532.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Nutrlt, O. W. (1979), Seismicity in the Central United States, Geol. Soc. Am. Rev. Eng. Geol. 4, 67–93.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rundle, J. B. (1988), A Physical Model for Earthquakes 2. Application to Southern California, J. Geophys. Res. 93, 6255–6274.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Saleur, H., Sammis, C. G., and Sornette, D. (1996), Discrete Scale Invariance, Complex Fractal Dimension, and Log periodic Fluctuations in Seismicity, J. Geophys. Res. 101, 17,661–17,677.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sammis, C. G., Sornette, D., and Saleur, H., Complexity and earthquake forecasting. In Reduction and Predictability of Natural Disasters, SFI Studies in the Sciences of Complexity (eds. Rundle, J. B., Klein, W., and Turcotte, D. L.) (Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA 1996) pp. 143–156.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schmittbuhl, J., Vilotte, J., and Roux, S. (1996), A Dissipation-based Analysis of an Earthquake Fault Model, J. Geophys. Res. 101, 27,741–27,764.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Schwartz, S. Y. (1996), Large Underthrusting Earthquakes in Subduction Zones with “Premature” Recurrence: Implications for the Seismic Gap Hypothesis (Abstract), EOS, Trans. AGU 1996 Fall Meeting Suppl. 77, F517.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shaw, B. E., Carlson, J. M., and Langer, J. S. (1992), Patterns of Seismic Activity Preceding Large Earthquakes, J. Geophys. Res. 97, 479–488.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sornette, D., and Sammis, C. G. (1995), Complex Critical Exponents from Renormalization Group Theory of Earthquakes: Implications for Earthquake Predictions, J. Phys. I France 5, 607–619.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sornette, D., Knopoff, L., Kagan, Y. Y., and Vanneste, C. (1996), Ranking-order Statistics of Extreme Events: Application to the Distribution of Large Earthquakes, J. Geophys. Res. 101, 13,883–13,893.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Steacy, S. J., and Mccloskey, J. (1998), What Controls an Earthquake Size? Results from a Heterogeneous Cellular Automaton, Geophys. J. Int. 133, F11–F14.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sykes, L. R., and Jaumé, S. C. (1990), Seismic Activity on Neighboring Faults as a Long-term Precursor to Large Earthquakes in the San Francisco Bay Region, Nature 348, 595–599.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sykes, L. R., and Nishenko, S. P. (1984), Probabilities of Occurrence of Large Plate Rupturing Earthquakes for the San Andreas, San Jacinto, and Imperial Faults, 1983–2003, J. Geophys. Res. 89, 5905–5927.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sykes, L. R., Scxolz, C. H., and Shaw, B. E. (1997), Increased Rates of Moderate-size Events Preceding Large Earthquakes: The Prescence of a Self-organized Critical State May be Regarded as a Precursor Instead of an Impediment to Earthquake Prediction (Abstract), EOS, Trans. AGU 1997 Fall Meeting Suppl. 78, F465.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tocher, D. (1959), Seismic History of the San Francisco Bay Region, Calif. Div. Mines Spec. Rep. 57, 39–48.

    Google Scholar 

  • Triep, E. G., and Sykes, L. R. (1997), Frequency of Occurrence of Moderate to Great Earthquakes in Intracontinental Regions: Implications for Changes in Stress, Earthquake Prediction, and Hazards Assessment, J. Geophys. Res. 102, 9923–9948.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Varnes, D. J. (1989), Predicting Earthquakes by Analyzing Accelerating Precursory Seismic Activity, Pure appl. geophys. 130, 661–686.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Varnes, D. J., and Bufe, C. G. (1996), The Cyclic and Fractal Seismic Series Preceding an mb 4.8 Earthquake on 1980 February 14 near the Virgin Islands, Geophys. J. Int. 124, 149–158.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Voight, B. (1989), A Relation to Describe Rate-dependent Material Failure, Science 243, 200–203.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Ward, S. N. (1996), A Synthetic Seismicity Model for Southern California: Cycles, Probabilities, and Hazard, J. Geophys. Res. 101, 22,393–22,418.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Wessel, P., and Smith, W. H. F. (1991), Free Software Helps Map and Display Data, EOS, Trans. AGU 72, 445–446.

    Google Scholar 

  • Willis, B. (1924), Earthquake Risk in California 8. Earthquake Districts, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 14, 9–25.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 1999 Birkhäuser Verlag

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Jaumé, S.C., Sykes, L.R. (1999). Evolving Towards a Critical Point: A Review of Accelerating Seismic Moment/Energy Release Prior to Large and Great Earthquakes. In: Wyss, M., Shimazaki, K., Ito, A. (eds) Seismicity Patterns, their Statistical Significance and Physical Meaning. Pageoph Topical Volumes. Birkhäuser, Basel. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-0348-8677-2_5

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-0348-8677-2_5

  • Publisher Name: Birkhäuser, Basel

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-7643-6209-6

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-0348-8677-2

  • eBook Packages: Springer Book Archive