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Invariant Galton–Watson branching process for earthquake occurrence

Yevgeniy Kovchegov, Ilya Zaliapin, & Yehuda Ben-Zion

Published June 2, 2022, SCEC Contribution #12710

We propose a theoretical modelling framework for earthquake occurrence and clustering based on a family of invariant Galton–Watson (IGW) stochastic branching processes. The IGW process is a rigorously defined approximation to imprecisely observed or incorrectly estimated earthquake clusters modelled by Galton–Watson branching processes, including the Epidemic Type Aftershock Sequence (ETAS) model. The theory of IGW processes yields explicit distributions for multiple cluster attributes, including magnitude-dependent and magnitude-independent offspring number, cluster size and cluster combinatorial depth. Analysis of the observed seismicity in southern California demonstrates that the IGW model provides a close fit to the observed earthquake clusters. The estimated IGW parameters and derived statistics are robust with respect to the catalogue lower cut-off magnitude. The proposed model facilitates analyses of multiple quantities of seismicity based on self-similar tree attributes, and may be used to assess the proximity of seismicity to criticality.

Kovchegov, Y., Zaliapin, I., & Ben-Zion, Y. (2022). Invariant Galton–Watson branching process for earthquake occurrence. Geophysical Journal International, 231(1), 567-583. doi: 10.1093/gji/ggac204.