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Embracing Data Incompleteness for Better Earthquake Forecasting
  • Leila Mizrahi,
  • Shyam Nandan,
  • Stefan Wiemer
Leila Mizrahi
Swiss Seismological Service

Corresponding Author:leila.mizrahi@sed.ethz.ch

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Shyam Nandan
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Stefan Wiemer
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We propose two new methods to calibrate the parameters of the epidemic-type aftershock sequence (ETAS) model based on expectation maximization (EM) while accounting for temporal variation of catalog completeness. The first method allows for model calibration on earthquake catalogs with long history, featuring temporal variation of the magnitude of completeness, mc. This extended calibration technique is beneficial for long-term probabilistic seismic hazard assessment (PSHA), which is often based on a mixture of instrumental and historical catalogs. The second method jointly estimates ETAS parameters and high-frequency detection incompleteness to address the potential biases in parameter calibration due to short-term aftershock incompleteness. For this, we generalize the concept of completeness magnitude and consider a rate- and magnitude-dependent detection probability – embracing incompleteness instead of avoiding it. Using synthetic tests, we show that both methods can accurately invert the parameters of simulated catalogs. We then use them to estimate ETAS parameters for California using the earthquake catalog since 1932. To explore how the newly gained information from the second method affects earthquakes’ predictability, we conduct pseudo-prospective forecasting experiments for California. Our proposed model significantly outperforms the base ETAS model, and we find that the ability to include small earthquakes for simulation of future scenarios is the main driver of the improvement. Our results point towards a preference of earthquakes to trigger similarly sized aftershocks, which has potentially major implications for our understanding of earthquake interaction mechanisms and for the future of seismicity forecasting.
Dec 2021Published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth volume 126 issue 12. 10.1029/2021JB022379