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Operational Earthquake Forecasting during the 2019 Ridgecrest, California, Earthquake Sequence with the UCERF3-ETAS Model

Kevin R. Milner, Edward H. Field, William H. Savran, Morgan T. Page, & Thomas H. Jordan

Published March 4, 2020, SCEC Contribution #9937

The first Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, Version 3–epidemic‐type aftershock sequence (UCERF3‐ETAS) aftershock simulations were running on a high‐performance computing cluster within 33 min of the 4 July 2019 M 6.4 Searles Valley earthquake. UCERF3‐ETAS, an extension of the third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF3), is the first comprehensive, fault‐based, epidemic‐type aftershock sequence (ETAS) model. It produces ensembles of synthetic aftershock sequences both on and off explicitly modeled UCERF3 faults to answer a key question repeatedly asked during the Ridgecrest sequence: What are the chances that the earthquake that just occurred will turn out to be the foreshock of an even bigger event?

As the sequence unfolded—including one such larger event, the 5 July 2019 M 7.1 Ridgecrest earthquake almost 34 hr later—we updated the model with observed aftershocks, finite‐rupture estimates, sequence‐specific parameters, and alternative UCERF3‐ETAS variants. Although configuring and running UCERF3‐ETAS at the time of the earthquake was not fully automated, considerable effort had been focused in 2018 on improving model documentation and ease of use with a public GitHub repository, command line tools, and flexible configuration files. These efforts allowed us to quickly respond and efficiently configure new simulations as the sequence evolved. Here, we discuss lessons learned during the Ridgecrest sequence, including sensitivities of fault triggering probabilities to poorly constrained finite‐rupture estimates and model assumptions, as well as implications for UCERF3‐ETAS operationalization.

Milner, K. R., Field, E. H., Savran, W. H., Page, M. T., & Jordan, T. H. (2020). Operational Earthquake Forecasting during the 2019 Ridgecrest, California, Earthquake Sequence with the UCERF3-ETAS Model. Seismological Research Letters, 91(3), 1567-1578. doi: 10.1785/0220190294. https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/ssa/srl/article/doi/10.1785/0220190294/582898/Operational-Earthquake-Forecasting-during-the-2019