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Regional variations in the diffusion of triggered seismicity

by Conor McKernon
Journal of Geophysical Research ()

Abstract

We determine the spatiotemporal characteristics of interearthquake triggering in the International Seismological Centre catalogue on regional and global scales. We pose a null hypothesis of spatially clustered, temporally random seismicity, and determine a residual pair correlation function for triggered events against this background. We compare results from the eastern Mediterranean, 25 Flinn-Engdahl seismic regions, and the global data set. The null hypothesis cannot be rejected for distances greater than ~150 km, providing an upper limit to triggering distances that can be distinguished from temporally uncorrelated seismicity in the stacked data at present. Correlation lengths L and mean distances between triggered events hri are on the order of 10–50 km, but can be as high as 100 km in subduction zones. These values are not strongly affected by magnitude threshold, but are comparable to seismogenic thicknesses, implying a strong thermal control on correlation lengths. The temporal evolution of L and hri is well fitted by a power law, with an exponent H ~ 0.1 ± 0.05. This is much lower than the value H = 0.5 expected for Gaussian diffusion in a homogenous medium. We observe clear regional variations in L, hri and H that appear to depend on tectonic setting. A detectable transition to a more rapid diffusion regime occurs in some cases at times greater than 100–200 days, possibly due to viscoelastic processes in the ductile lower crust.

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