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Are aftershocks of large Californian earthquakes diffusing?

Agnes Helmstetter, Guy Ouillon, & Didier Sornette

Published October 2003, SCEC Contribution #742

We analyze 21 aftershock sequences of California to test for evidence of space-time diffusion. Aftershock diffusion may result from stress diffusion and is also predicted by any mechanism of stress weakening. Here we test an alternative mechanism to explain aftershock diffusion, based on multiple cascades of triggering. In order to characterize aftershock diffusion, we develop two methods, one based on a suitable time and space windowing, and the other using a wavelet transform adapted to the removal of background seismicity. Both methods confirm that diffusion of seismic activity is very weak, much weaker than reported in previous studies. A possible mechanism explaining the weakness of observed diffusion is the effect of geometry, including the localization of aftershocks on a fractal fault network and the impact of extended rupture lengths which control the typical distances of interaction between earthquakes.

Key Words
United States, precursors, Southern California Seismic Network, statistical analysis, mechanism, cluster analysis, California, aftershocks, rupture, Southern California, wavelets, seismicity, time factor, earthquake prediction, propogation, seismic netowrks, earthquakes, faults

Helmstetter, A., Ouillon, G., & Sornette, D. (2003). Are aftershocks of large Californian earthquakes diffusing?. Journal of Geophysical Research, 108(B10), 2483. doi: 10.1029/2003JB002503.