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Apparent earthquake rupture predictability

Meier, Men-Andrin and Ampuero, Jean-Paul and Cochran, Elizabeth and Page, Morgan (2021) Apparent earthquake rupture predictability. Geophysical Journal International, 225 (1). pp. 657-663. ISSN 0956-540X. doi:10.1093/gji/ggaa610.

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To what extent can the future evolution of an ongoing earthquake rupture be predicted? This question of fundamental scientific and practical importance has recently been addressed by studies of teleseismic source time functions (STFs) but reaching contrasting conclusions. One study concludes that the initial portion of STFs is the same regardless of magnitude. Another study concludes that the rate at which earthquakes grow increases systematically and strongly with final event magnitudes. Here, we show that the latter reported trend is caused by a selection bias towards events with unusually long durations and by estimates of STF growth made when the STF is already decaying. If these invalid estimates are left out, the trend is no longer present, except during the first few seconds of the smallest events in the data set, M_w 5–6.5, for which the reliability of the STF amplitudes is questionable. Simple synthetic tests show that the observations are consistent with statistically indistinguishable growth of smaller and larger earthquakes. A much weaker trend is apparent among events of comparable duration, but we argue that its significance is not resolvable by the current data. Finally, we propose a nomenclature to facilitate further discussions of earthquake rupture predictability and determinism.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemData
Meier, Men-Andrin0000-0002-2949-8602
Ampuero, Jean-Paul0000-0002-4827-7987
Cochran, Elizabeth0000-0003-2485-4484
Page, Morgan0000-0001-9321-2990
Additional Information:© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model ( Received 2020 December 4; in original form 2020 September 15; Published: 29 December 2020. This research was partially funded by U.S. Geological Survey Cooperative Agreement G19AC00296 and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Grant 5229 to Caltech. Data Availability: The STFs used in this study from Vallée et al. (2011) can be downloaded from accessed in November 2020).
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation5229
Subject Keywords:Earthquake dynamics; Earthquake early warning; Earthquake interaction, forecasting, and prediction; Earthquake source observations
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210528-140343140
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Official Citation:Men-Andrin Meier, Jean-Paul Ampuero, Elizabeth Cochran, Morgan Page, Apparent earthquake rupture predictability, Geophysical Journal International, Volume 225, Issue 1, April 2021, Pages 657–663,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:109306
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:28 May 2021 22:14
Last Modified:28 May 2021 22:14

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