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Determination of M_(max) from Background Seismicity and Moment Conservation

Stevens, V. L. and Avouac, J.-P. (2017) Determination of M_(max) from Background Seismicity and Moment Conservation. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 107 (6). pp. 2578-2596. ISSN 0037-1106. doi:10.1785/0120170022.

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We describe a simple method to determine the probability distribution function of the magnitude M_(max) and return period T_R of the maximum plausible earthquake on crustal faults. The method requires the background seismicity rate (estimated from instrumental data) and the rate of interseismic moment buildup. The method assumes that the moment released by the seismic slip is in balance with the moment deficit accumulated in between earthquakes. It also assumes that the seismicity obeys the Gutenberg–Richter (GR) law up to M_(max) . We took into account the aftershocks of large infrequent events that were not represented in the instrumental record, so that we could estimate the average seismicity rate over the entire fault history. We extrapolated the instrumental record, using the GR law to model the frequency of larger events and their aftershocks. This increased the frequencies of smaller events on average; when these smaller events were newly extrapolated, they predicted a higher frequency of larger events. We iterated this process until stability was reached, and then we assumed moment balance when we found the maximum magnitude; we have found this method to be appropriate in applications involving examples of fault with good historical catalogs. We then showed examples of applications to faults with no historical catalogs. We present results from nine cases. For the San Andreas fault system, we find M_(max)=8.1±0.3, with T_R380^(950)_(120)yrs ; for the North Anatolian fault, M_(max)=8.0±0.3, with T_R275^(650)_(135)yrs ; for the Main Himalayan thrust, M_(max)=9.0±0.2, with T_R1200^(2700)_(550)yrs; for the Japan trench, M_(max)=9.3±0.3, with T_R520^(1200)_(220)yrs; for the Sumatra–Andaman trench, M_(max)=9.0±0.3, with T_R200^(450)_(80)yrs ; for the Boconó fault, M_(max)=7.3±0.3, with T_R160^(360)_(70)yrs; for the Altyn Tagh fault, M_(max)=8.0±0.3, with T_R900^(2000)_(400)yrs; for the Dead Sea Transform, M_(max)=7.8±0.3, with T_R1000^(2400)_(450)yrs; and for the Kunlun fault, M_(max)=8.0±0.3, with T_R1000^(2000)_(450)yrs.

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Avouac, J.-P.0000-0002-3060-8442
Alternate Title:Determination of Mmax from Background Seismicity and Moment Conservation
Additional Information:© 2017 Seismological Society of America. Manuscript received 20 January 2017; Published Online 26 September 2017. The authors would like to thank two anonymous reviewers, Art McGarr, and Editor‐in‐Chief Thomas Pratt, for useful suggestions that improved this article. Data and Resources: The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) database was searched using (last accessed September 2016). All other data used in this article came from published sources that are listed in the references.
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Issue or Number:6
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20171220-134657325
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Official Citation:V. L. Stevens, J.‐P. Avouac; Determination of MmaxMmax from Background Seismicity and Moment Conservation. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America ; 107 (6): 2578–2596. doi:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:83988
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:20 Dec 2017 22:07
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 20:15

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