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Are Physics-Based Simulators Ready for Prime Time? Comparisons of RSQSim with UCERF3 and Observations

Kevin R. Milner, Bruce E. Shaw, Jacquelyn J. Gilchrist, & Thomas H. Jordan

Published August 15, 2017, SCEC Contribution #7835, 2017 SCEC Annual Meeting Poster #012

Probabilistic seismic hazard analysis (PSHA) is typically performed by combining an earthquake rupture forecast (ERF) with a set of empirical ground motion prediction equations (GMPEs). ERFs have typically relied on observed fault slip rates and scaling relationships to estimate the rate of large earthquakes on pre-defined fault segments, either ignoring or relying on expert opinion to set the rates of multi-fault or multi-segment ruptures. Version 3 of the Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF3) is a significant step forward, replacing expert opinion and fault segmentation with an inversion approach that matches observations better than prior models while incorporating multi-fault ruptures. UCERF3 is a statistical model, however, and doesn’t incorporate the physics of earthquake nucleation, rupture propagation, and stress transfer. We examine the feasibility of replacing UCERF3, or components therein, with physics-based rupture simulators such as the Rate-State Earthquake Simulator (RSQSim), developed by Dieterich & Richards-Dinger (2010). RSQSim simulations on the UCERF3 fault system produce catalogs of seismicity that match long term rates on major faults, and produce remarkable agreement with UCERF3 when carried through to PSHA calculations. Averaged over a representative set of sites, the RSQSim-UCERF3 hazard-curve differences are comparable to the small differences between UCERF3 and its predecessor, UCERF2. The hazard-curve agreement between the empirical and physics-based models provides substantial support for the PSHA methodology.

RSQSim catalogs include many complex multi-fault ruptures, which we compare with the UCERF3 rupture-plausibility metrics as well as recent observations. Complications in generating physically plausible kinematic descriptions of multi-fault ruptures have thus far prevented us from using UCERF3 in the CyberShake physics-based PSHA platform, which replaces GMPEs with deterministic ground motion simulations. RSQSim produces full slip/time histories that can be directly implemented as sources in CyberShake, without relying on the conditional hypocenter and slip distributions needed for the UCERF models. We also compare RSQSim with time-dependent PSHA calculations based on multi-fault renewal models.

Key Words

Milner, K. R., Shaw, B. E., Gilchrist, J. J., & Jordan, T. H. (2017, 08). Are Physics-Based Simulators Ready for Prime Time? Comparisons of RSQSim with UCERF3 and Observations. Poster Presentation at 2017 SCEC Annual Meeting.

Related Projects & Working Groups
Earthquake Forecasting and Predictability (EFP)