Universality of the Seismic Moment-Frequency Relation

Yan Y. Kagan

Published August 1999, SCEC Contribution #455

We analyze the seismic moment-frequency relation in various depth ranges and for different seismic regions, using Flinn-Engdahl's regionalization of global seismicity. Three earthquake lists of centroid-moment tensor data have been used the Harvard catalog, the USGS catalog, and the Huang et al. (1997) catalog of deep earthquakes. The results confirm the universality of the g-values and the maximum moment for shallow earthquakes in continental regions, as well as at and near continental boundaries. Moreover, we show that although fluctuations in earthquake size distribution increase with depth, the g-values for earthquakes in the depth range of 0–500 km exhibit no statistically significant regional variations. The regional variations are significant only for deep events near the 660 km boundary. For declustered shallow earthquake catalogs and deeper events, we show that the worldwide g-values have the same value of 0.60 - 0.02. This finding suggests that the g-value is a universal constant. We investigate the statistical correlations between the numbers of seismic events in different depth ranges and the correlation of the tectonic deformation rate and seismic activity (the number of earthquakes above a certain threshold level per year). The high level of these correlations suggests that seismic activity indicates tectonic deformation rate in subduction zones. Combined with the universality of the g-value, this finding implies little if any variation in maximum earthquake seismic moment among various subduction zones. If we assume that earthquakes of maximum size are similar in different depth ranges and the seismic efficiency coefficient, h, is close to 100% for shallow seismicity, then we can estimate h for deeper earthquakes for intermediate earthquakes h , 5%, and h , 1% for deep events. These results may lead to new theoretical understanding of the earthquake process and better estimates of seismic hazard.

Kagan, Y. Y. (1999). Universality of the Seismic Moment-Frequency Relation. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 155(2-4), 537-573. doi: 10.1007/s000240050277.