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Magnitude of Earthquake

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A MODI FI ED FORM OF THE GUTENBERG- RI CHTER

MAGNI TUDE- FREQUENCY RELATI ON

BY J ORGE LOMNI TZ- ADLER AND CI NNA LOMNI TZ

ABSTRACT

A st ochast i c model of st rai n accumul at i on and r el ease at pl at e boundar i es i s

pr oposed. The model l eads t o t he gener al i zed Gut enber g- Ri cht er r el at i on

In G(x) = const ant - B exp (ax)

wher e G is t he cumul at i ve e x c e e d e n c e of a magni t ude x. Thi s r el at i on t ends

asympt ot i cal l y t o t he or i gi nal Gut enber g- Ri cht er r el at i on in t he l ow- magni t ude

range; at hi gh magni t udes it pr ovi des est i mat es of t he pr obabi l i t y of occur r ence

whi ch are si gni f i cant l y mor e r eal i st i c t han t he Gut enber g- Ri cht er rel at i on. Ex-

cel l ent a gr e e me nt i s obt ai ned wi t h t he dat a of t he Chi nese e a r t hqua k e cat al og

cover i ng a t i me per i od of 2 , 7 5 3 year s.

INTRODUCTION

In this paper we propose a simple stochastic model which leads to a modified

form of the Gutenberg-Richter magnitude distribution (1944, 1954)

log GM(X) = a -- bx (1)

whi ch is wi del y used for t he purpose of est i mat i ng t he likelihood of occurrence of

ear t hquakes above a specified magni t ude level. Her e GM(X) is t he cumul at i ve

exceedence frequency of an event of magni t ude x; thus, 10" - GM(X) is t he non-

normalized cumul at i ve frequency as commonl y defined in statistics.

Criticism of equat i on (1) has consi st ent l y cent ered around its unsat i sfact ory

behavi or in t he high magni t ude range (Esteva, 1975; Lomnitz, 1974). Ear t hquake

engineers have not ed t he fact t hat t he formul a diverges when a change of variable,

using energy i nst ead of magni t ude, is i nt roduced. The t endency t o overest i mat e t he

likelihood of hi gh-energy event s t hus appears t o be bui l t into t he formula. Some

geophysi ci st s have argued t hat t he magni t ude scale ceases t o be physically mean-

ingful at ver y large magni t udes, t hus providing a nat ural rest ri ct i on on t he validity

of t he Gut enber g- Ri cht er rel at i on (Bolt, 1970; Otsuka, 1973; Chi nnery and Nort h,

1975). However, t he Ri cht er scale cont i nues t o be used by seismologists and

nonseismologists according to its original definition; thus, users will continue to

requi re pract i cal met hods for est i mat i ng t he recurrence of large-magnitude events.

Some i nvest i gat ors have pr oposed an al t ernat i ve approach, by introducing a

maxi mum magni t ude Ms for each region (Cornell and Vanmarcke, 1969; Cornell,

1968, 1971; Yegulalp and Kuo, 1974; Smith, 1976; Caput o, 1978). The pr obl em wi t h

this appr oach resides in t he difficulty of est i mat i ng Ms; at present, no reliable

pr ocedur e for est i mat i ng maxi mum magni t udes is known.

A MODEL

Consi der an act i ve pl at e boundary, and suppose t hat ear t hquakes occur indepen-

dent l y at random, so t hat t he sequence of occurrences forms a Poi sson process in

t i me wi t h mean i nt eroccurrence t i me ~o. We follow t he maj or i t y of aut hor s in

1209

1210 J ORGE LOMNI TZ- ADLER AND CI NNA LOMNI TZ

assuming t hat the motion along the plate boundary may be taken as stationary in

time.

Let us assume t hat the strain along the boundary accumulates at a constant rate

k, and drops to a constant base level S after each event (Figure 1). These assumptions

are necessarily oversimplified, since the case of i ndependent occurrence in time

must be studied before introducing any refinements into the model. Thus, the

potential slip ha accumulated prior to an event; this is simply proportional to the

accumulation time r which precedes the event

h o = k r . ( 2 )

We define our region in such a way t hat the ratio of seismic-to-aseismic slip may be

t aken as a regional constant. Then, if the seismic moment Mo is proportional to the

fault slip (Brune and Lomnitz, 1974), we may write for any given event

M0 = Cho = Ck' r (3)

T "~{

v

FIG. 1. t

where C is a regional constant.

As the occurrences of events in time form a Poisson process, it follows t hat the

interoccurrence times are exponentially distributed

1

f ~(x) = -- exp ( - X # o ) , (4)

TO

where f~ is the probability density function of ~. Introducing the change of variable

defined by equation (3) we find

1

fMo(X) = - - exp ( - x / C k r o ) (5)

TO

A NEW MAGNITUDE-FREQUENCY RELATION 1211

where fMo is the probability density function of Mo.

Now, the seismic moment is related to the Richter magnitude M through an

empirical relation of the form

In Mo -- aM + fl (6)

where the parameters a and fl vary from region to region. Introducing into equation

(5) we obtain the magnitude distribution

fM(X) = fMo [exp (aX + f i ) ] d Mo / d M

_ a__Q_Qexp [ a x - B exp(ax)] (7)

TO

where fM(X) is the probability density function of M, and

and

B -- exp (f l )/ CK~' o (8)

Q -- exp (fi). (9)

The cumulative exceedence frequency may now be obtained as follows

GM(X) = [M( X) dx = C K exp [ - B exp (ax)]

x

(lO)

or, taking logarithms of both sides,

In GM(X) = A - B exp (ax) (11)

where A = In CK. This new equation is to be compared with the Gutenberg-Richter

relation, equation (1).

COMPARISON WITH THE GUTENBERG-RICHTER RELATION

A relevant property of the Gutenberg-Richter relation is its invariance under a

transformation of the form

x ' =x - X o (12)

where Xo is some arbitrary threshold magnitude. This property is important because

the Richter magnitude is a relative scale, as the zero was arbitrarily fixed. In

practice, xo is taken as the detection threshold for the sample under consideration.

Introducing into equation (11) we find

In VM( X' ) ---- A - B exp axo exp ax'. (13)

Now, we may expand equation (13) as follows

l nGM( x' ) =A- Be xpa xo 1 + ~ + ~ + . . . . (14)

1212 J OR GE L OMNI T Z - ADL E R AND CI NNA L OMNI T Z

In t he range 0 < ax' < 1 we may neglect t he t erms of order great er t han 1, t hus

recoveri ng t he Gut enber g- Ri cht er equat i on. In ot her words, over t he l ow-magni t ude

range t he modified magni t ude-frequency rel at i on [equat i on (11)] approaches asymp-

t ot i cal l y a Gut enber g- Ri cht er relation wi t h an equi val ent b-value

b = aBe "x log e. (15)

Thus, for small magni t udes t he Gut enber g- Ri cht er rel at i on is a good approxi mat i on

to ours.

At hi gher magni t udes our rel at i on yields syst emat i cal l y lower val ues of G t han

t he original Gut enber g- Ri cht er relation. The rat e at whi ch t he new relation falls off

wi t h reference t o t he linear logarithmic fit is governed by t he positive par amet er a.

Hence t he val ue of a is a measur e of t he i nadequacy of t he original Gut enberg-

Ri cht er equat i on t o fit dat a in t he hi gh-magni t ude range.

G ",,

0 . 3 -

0 . 2 -

0 . 1 -

I

6 . 5

0 . 0 5

0 . 0 4

0 . 0 3

0 . 0 2

0. 01

0 . 0 0 5

In G = K- - e ~M

a =0. 17

G& R

1 I 1 I ' " I

7. 0 7. 5 8 . 0 8 . 5 9. 0 M

FIG. 2.

A numeri cal compari son bet ween t he t wo magni t ude-frequency relations is shown

in Fi gure 2. The dat a for t hi s compari son were t aken from t he Cat al ogue of Chinese

eart hquakes, 780 B.C. t o 1973 A.D. (Academi a Sinica, 1974). Thi s catalog cont ai ns

629 ent ri es (Tabl e 1) for a t hreshol d magni t ude x0 = 6.0; it is t he longest publ i shed

cat al og of historical ear t hquakes in any region. The figure shows t hat equat i on (11)

provi des a significantly bet t er fit t han equat i on (1) for t hi s dat a set. The i mproved

fit at magni t udes in excess of 7.0 is part i cul arl y rel evant in view of t he critical use of

ear t hquake frequency dat a at high magni t udes in t he est i mat i on of ear t hquake risk

and ot her sensitive engineering applications.

DI S C US S I ON

Ther e is wi despread agr eement on t he need for modifying t he original Gut enberg-

Ri cht er rel at i on in order t o account for observed di screpanci es at high magni t udes.

A NEW MAGNI TUDE- FREQUENCY RELATION

TABLE 1

CATALOG OF CHINESE EARTHQUAKES, 780 B.C. TO

1973 A.D.

Magnitude Number of Exceedences G

6.0 629 1.0000

6.1 420 0.6677

6.2 408 0.6486

6.3 317 0.5040

6.4 309 0.4913

6.5 302 0.4801

6.6 186 0.2957

6.7 181 0.2878

6.8 118 0.1876

6.9 118 0.1876

7.0 113 0.1797

7.1 113 0.1797

7.2 74 0.1176

7.3 50 0.0795

7.4 48 0.0763

7.5 47 0.0747

7.6 24 0.0382

7.7 23 0.0366

7.8 23 0.0366

7.9 18 0.0286

8.0 17 O.0270

8.1 17 0.0270

8.2 4 0.0064

8.3 4 0.0064

8.4 4 0.0064

8.5 3 0.0048

8.6 3 0.0048

8.7 0 0.0000

1213

Our pr oposed modification, equat i on (11), provi des an adequat e fit to available

magni t ude- f r equency dat a over ext ended peri ods of t i me (Figure 2).

A pl ausi bl e i mpr ovement of t he present model may be suggest ed by subst i t ut i ng

r andom fl uct uat i ons in strain accumul at i on rates, and in t he residual strain levels,

for t he const ant s K and S f eat ur ed in our model. Numeri cal experiments, however,

show t hat this i mpr oved model yields essentially t he same di st ri but i on for magni-

t udes as t he simpler model di scussed in this paper.

In conclusion, t he sawt oot h model shown in Figure 1 generat es a di st ri but i on

whi ch adequat el y descri bes t he available magni t ude-frequency data.

REFERENCES

Academia Sinica (1974). Catalogue of great earthquakes in China, 780 B.C. to 1973 A.D. (in Chinese),

Inst. Geophys., Peking, 31 pp.

Bolt, B. A. (1970). Causes of earthquakes, in Earthquake Engineering, R. L. Wiegel, Editor, Prentice

Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 21-45.

Brune, J. N. and C. Lomnitz (1974). Recent seismological developments relating to earthquake hazard,

Geofis. Intern., Mexico, 14, 49-63.

Caputo, M. (1978). The distribution of the faults and the maximum magnitude of a seismic region, Proc.

1976 Friuli Eart hquake and Antiseismic Design of Nuclear Installations, CNEN, Rome, 709-736.

Chinnery, M. A. and R. G. North (1975). The frequency of very large earthquakes, ScienCe 109, 1197-

1198.

Cornell, C. A. (1968). Engineering seismic risk analysis, Bull. Seism. Soc. Am. 58, 1583-1606.

1214 J ORGE LOMNI TZ- ADLER AND CI NNA LOMNITZ

Cornel], C. A. (1971). Probabilistic analysis of damage to st ruct ures under seismic loads, in Dynamic

Waves in Civil Engineering, D. A. Howells, Editor, J ohn Wiley, London.

Cornell, C. A. and E. H. Vanmarcke (1969). The maj or influences on seismic risk, Proc. Worm Conf

Earthquake Eng., 4th, Santiago, I, A- I , 69-83.

Est eva, L. (1975). Geology and probability in t he assessment of seismic risk, Inst. Eng. UNAM, Rept.

E13, Mexico, 23 pp.

Gutenberg, B. and C. F. Ri cht er (1944). Fr equency of eart hquakes in California, Bull. Seism. Soc. Am.

34, 185-188.

Gutenberg, B. and C. F. Ri cht er (1954). Seismicity of the Earth and Associated Phenomena, Pri ncet on

Uni versi t y Press, Princeton, NJ, 310 pp.

Lomnitz, C. (1974). Global Tectonics and Earthquake Risk, Elsevier, Amst erdam, 320 pp.

Otsuka, M. {1973). Cut off of seismic energy, J. Phys. Earth (Tokyo) 21, 119-123.

Smith, S. W. (1976). Det er mi nat i on of maxi mum eart hquake magnitude, Geophys. Res. Letters 3, 351-

354.

Yegulalp, T. M. and J. T. Kuo (1974). St at i st i cal prediction of t he occurrence of maxi mum magni t ude

earthquakes, Bull. Seism. Soc. Am. 64, 393-414.

INSTITUTO DE INVESTIGACIONES EN MATEMATICAS

APPLICADAS YEN SISTEMAS (C.L.)

UNIVERSIDAD NACIONAL AUTONOMA DE MEXICO

APARTADO POSTAL 20-726

MEXICO 20, DF MEXICO

DEPARTMENT OF PHYsics (J.L.A.)

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS

URBANA, ILLINOIS 61801

Manuscri pt recei ved November 18, 1977

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