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The energy release in great earthquakes

Kanamori, Hiroo (1977) The energy release in great earthquakes. Journal of Geophysical Research, 82 (20). pp. 2981-2987. ISSN 0148-0227. doi:10.1029/JB082i020p02981.

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The conventional magnitude scale M suffers saturation when the rupture dimension of the earthquake exceeds the wavelength of the seismic waves used for the magnitude determination (usually 5–50 km). This saturation leads to an inaccurate estimate of energy released in great earthquakes. To circumvent this problem the strain energy drop W (difference in strain energy before and after an earthquake) in great earthquakes is estimated from the seismic moment M_0. If the stress drop Δσ is complete, W = W_0 = (Δσ/2μ)M_0 ∼ M_0/(2×10^4), where μ is the rigidity; if it is partial, W_0 gives the minimum estimate of the strain energy drop. Furthermore, if Orowan's condition, i.e., that frictional stress equal final stress, is met, W_0 represents the seismic wave energy. A new magnitude scale M_w is defined in terms of W_0 through the standard energy-magnitude relation log W_0 = 1.5M_w + 11.8. M_w is as large as 9.5 for the 1960 Chilean earthquake and connects smoothly to M_s (surface wave magnitude) for earthquakes with a rupture dimension of about 100 km or less. The M_w scale does not suffer saturation and is a more adequate magnitude scale for great earthquakes. The seismic energy release curve defined by W_0 is entirely different from that previously estimated from Ms. During the 15-year period from 1950 to 1965 the annual average of W_0 is more than 1 order of magnitude larger than that during the periods from 1920 to 1950 and from 1965 to 1976. The temporal variation of the amplitude of the Chandler wobble correlates very well with the variation of W_0, with a slight indication of the former preceding the latter. In contrast, the number N of moderate to large earthquakes increased very sharply as the Chandler wobble amplitude increased but decreased very sharply during the period from 1945 to 1965, when W_0 was largest. One possible explanation for these correlations is that the increase in the wobble amplitude triggers worldwide seismic activity and accelerates plate motion which eventually leads to great decoupling earthquakes. This decoupling causes the decline of moderate to large earthquake activity. Changes in the rotation rate of the earth may be an important element in this mechanism.

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Kanamori, Hiroo0000-0001-8219-9428
Additional Information:Copyright 1977 by the American Geophysical Union. (Received January 31, 1977; revised March 21, 1977; accepted March 22, 1977.) Paper number 7B0286. I have benefited greatly from stimulating discussions with and helpful comments by Don Anderson, Bob Geller, and Yoshio Fukao. The idea of using static parameters to estimate the minimum energy involved in great earthquakes emerged from conversations held with Don Anderson and Tom Hanks. Yoshio Fukao and Gordon Stewart kindly made available some of their results prior to publication. This research was supported by the Earth Sciences Section of the National Science Foundation, grants EAR76-14262 and EAR74-22489. Contribution 2867 of the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125.
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Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences2867
Issue or Number:20
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Official Citation:Kanamori, H. (1977), The energy release in great earthquakes, J. Geophys. Res., 82(20), 2981–2987, doi:10.1029/JB082i020p02981.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:51386
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:06 Nov 2014 22:26
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 19:10

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