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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Short- and Long-Term Earthquake Forecasts for California and Nevada

  • Author(s): Kagan, Y. Y.
  • Jackson, D. D.
  • et al.

We present estimates of future earthquake rate density (probability per unit area, time, and magnitude) on a 0.1-degree grid for a region including California and Nevada, based only on data from past earthquakes. Our long-term forecast is not explicitly time-dependent, but it can be updated at any time to incorporate information from recent earthquakes. The present version, founded on several decades worth of data, is suitable for testing without updating over a five-year period as part of the experiment conducted by the Collaboratory for Study of Earthquake Predictability  (CSEP). The short-term forecast is meant to be updated daily and tested against similar models by CSEP. The short-term forecast includes a fraction of our long-term one plus time-dependent contributions from all previous earthquakes. Those contributions decrease with time according to the Omori law: proportional to the reciprocal of the elapsed time. Both forecasts estimate rate density using a radially symmetric spatial smoothing kernel decreasing approximately as the reciprocal of the square of epicentral distance, weighted according to the magnitude of each past earthquake. We made two versions of both the long- and short-term forecasts, based on the Advanced National Seismic System  (ANSS) and Preliminary Determinations of Epicenters (PDE) catalogs, respectively. The two versions are quite consistent, but for testing purposes we prefer those based on the ANSS catalog since it covers a longer time interval, is complete to a lower magnitude threshold and has more precise locations. Both forecasts apply to shallow earthquakes only (depth 25 km or less) and assume a tapered Gutenberg-Richter magnitude distribution extending to a lower threshold of 4.0.

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