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The Seismic Hazard Implications of Declustering and Poisson Assumptions Inferred from a Fully Time-Dependent Model

Edward H. Field, Kevin R. Milner, & Nicolas Luco

Published October 5, 2021, SCEC Contribution #11111

We use the Third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast ETAS Model (UCERF3-ETAS) to evaluate the effects of declustering and Poisson assumptions on seismic hazard estimates. Although declustering is necessary to infer the long-term spatial distribution of earthquake rates, the question is whether it is also necessary to honor the Poisson assumption in classic probabilistic seismic hazard assessment. We use 500,000 years of M ≥ 2.5 synthetic catalogs to address this question, for which UCERF3-ETAS exhibits realistic spatiotemporal clustering effects (e.g., aftershocks). We find that Gardner and Knopoff (1974) declustering, used in the U.S. Geological Survey seismic hazard models, lowers 2% in 50-year and Risk-Targeted Ground Motion hazard metrics by about 4% on average (compared to the full time-dependent model), with the reduction being 5% at 40% in 50-year ground motions. Keeping all earthquakes and treating them as a Poisson process increases these same hazard metrics by about 3%-12%, on average, due to the removal of relatively quiet time periods in the full time-dependent model. In the interest of model simplification, bias minimization, and considering probabilities of multiple exceedances, we agree with others (Marzocchi and Taroni, 2014) that we are better off keeping aftershocks and treating them as a Poisson process rather than removing them from hazard consideration via declustering. Honoring the true time dependence, however, will likely be important for other hazard and risk metrics, and this study further exemplifies how this can now be evaluated more extensively.

Field, E. H., Milner, K. R., & Luco, N. (2021). The Seismic Hazard Implications of Declustering and Poisson Assumptions Inferred from a Fully Time-Dependent Model. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 112(1), 527-537. doi: 10.1785/0120210027.