A deep Gaussian process model for seismicity background rates
The spatio-temporal properties of seismicity give us incisive insight into the stress state evolution and fault structures of the crust. Empirical models based on self-exciting point processes continue to provide an important tool for analysing seismicity, given the epistemic uncertainty associated with physical models. In particular, the epidemic-type aftershock sequence (ETAS) model acts as a reference model for studying seismicity catalogues. The traditional ETAS model uses simple parametric definitions for the background rate of triggering-independent seismicity. This reduces the effectiveness of the basic ETAS model in modelling the temporally complex seismicity patterns seen in seismic swarms that are dominated by aseismic tectonic processes such as fluid injection rather than aftershock triggering. In order to robustly capture time-varying seismicity rates, we introduce a deep Gaussian process (GP) formulation for the background rate as an extension to ETAS. GPs are a robust non-parametric model for function spaces with covariance structure. By conditioning the length-scale structure of a GP with another GP, we have a deep-GP: a probabilistic, hierarchical model that automatically tunes its structure to match data constraints. We show how the deep-GP-ETAS model can be efficiently sampled by making use of a Metropolis-within-Gibbs scheme, taking advantage of the branching process formulation of ETAS and a stochastic partial differential equation (SPDE) approximation for Matérn GPs. We illustrate our method using synthetic examples, and show that the deep-GP-ETAS model successfully captures multiscale temporal behaviour in the background forcing rate of seismicity. We then apply the results to two real-data catalogues: the Ridgecrest, CA 2019 July 5 Mw 7.1 event catalogue, showing that deep-GP-ETAS can successfully characterize a classical aftershock sequence; and the 2016–2019 Cahuilla, CA earthquake swarm, which shows two distinct phases of aseismic forcing concordant with a fluid injection-driven initial sequence, arrest of the fluid along a physical barrier and release following the largest Mw 4.4 event of the sequence.
© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. JBM acknowledges the support of the General Sir John Monash foundation during his graduate studies, which initiated this project, and the support of the European Commission via MSCA-IF 101027079. ZER was supported by the National Science Foundation under award EAR-2034167. The authors would like to thank the efforts of editor Dr Margarita Segou and two anonymous reviewers who significantly improved the manuscript.
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