Some preliminary results of a worldwide seismicity estimation: a case study of seismic hazard evaluation in South America

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T. M. Tsapanos
C. V. Christova


Global data have been widely used for seismicity and seismic hazard assessment by seismologists. In the present study we evaluate worldwide seismicity in terms of maps of maximum observed magnitude (Mmax), seismic moment (M 0 ) and seismic moment rate (M 0S). The data set used consists of a complete and homogeneous global catalogue of shallow (h £ 60 km) earthquakes of magnitude MS ³ 5.5 for the time period 1894-1992. In order to construct maps of seismicity and seismic hazard the parameters a and b derived from the magnitude-frequency relationship were estimated by both: a) the least squares, and b) the maximum likelihood, methods. The values of a and b were determined considering circles centered at each grid point 1° (of a mesh 1° ´1°) and of varying radius, which starts from 30 km and moves with a step of 10 km. Only a and b values which fulfill some predefined conditions were considered in the further procedure for evaluating the seismic hazard maps. The obtained worldwide M max distribution in general delineates the contours of the plate boundaries. The highest values of M max observed are along the circum-Pacific belt and in the Himalayan area. The subduction plate boundaries are characterized by the largest amount of M 0 , while areas of continental collision are next. The highest values of seismic moment rate (per 1 year and per equal area of 10 000 km 2) are found in the Southern Himalayas. The western coasts of U.S.A., Northwestern Canada and Alaska, the Indian Ocean and the eastern rift of Africa are characterized by high values of M 0 , while most of the Pacific subduction zones have lower values of seismic moment rate. Finally we analyzed the seismic hazard in South America comparing the predicted by the NUVEL1 model convergence slip rate between Nazca and South America plates with the average slip rate due to earthquakes. This consideration allows for distinguishing between zones of high and low coupling along the studied convergence plate boundary.

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Tsapanos, T. M. and Christova, C. V. (2000) “Some preliminary results of a worldwide seismicity estimation: a case study of seismic hazard evaluation in South America”, Annals of Geophysics, 43(1). doi: 10.4401/ag-3618.