Reduced seismic activity after mega earthquakes

Yongwen Zhang, Maor Elbaz, Shlomo Havlin, Yosef Ashkenazy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Mainshocks are often followed by increased earthquake activity (aftershocks). According to the Omori-Utsu law, the rate of aftershocks decays as a power law over time. While aftershocks typically occur in the vicinity of the mainshock, previous studies have suggested that mainshocks can also trigger earthquakes in remote locations, beyond the range of aftershocks. Here we analyze the rate of earthquakes that occurred after mega-earthquakes (with a magnitude of 7.5 or higher) and show that there is a significantly higher occurrence of mega-earthquakes that are followed by reduced activity beyond a certain distance from the epicenter compared to the expected frequency; the results are based on statistical tests we developed. However, the remote earthquake rate after the strongest earthquakes (magnitude ≥8) can also be significantly higher than the expected rate. Comparing our findings to the global Epidemic-Type Aftershock Sequence model, we find that the model does not capture the above findings, hinting at a potential missing mechanism. We suggest that the reduced earthquake rate is due to the release of global energy/tension after substantial mainshock events. This conjecture holds the potential to enhance our comprehension of the intricacies governing post-seismic activity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number297
JournalCommunications Earth and Environment
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2024

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© The Author(s) 2024.

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