Asperity-based earthquake likelihood models for Italy

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Laura Gulia
Stefan Wiemer
Danijel Schorlemmer


The Asperity Likelihood Model (ALM) hypothesizes that small-scale spatial variations in the b-value of the Gutenberg-Richter relationship have a central role in forecasting future seismicity. The physical basis of the ALM is the concept that the local b-value is inversely dependent on the applied shear stress. Thus low b-values (b <0.7) characterize locked patches of faults, or asperities, from which future mainshocks are more likely to be generated, whereas high b-values (b >1.1), which can be found, for example, in creeping sections of faults, suggest a lower probability of large events. To turn this hypothesis into a forecast model for Italy, we first determined the regional b-value (b = 0.93 ±0.01) and compared it with the locally determined b-values at each node of the forecast grid, based on sampling radii ranging from 6 km to 20 km. We used the local b-values if their Akaike Information Criterion scores were lower than those of the regional b-values. We then explored two modifications to this model: in the ALM.IT, we declustered the input catalog for M ≥2 and smoothed the node-wise rates of the declustered catalog with a Gaussian filter. Completeness values for each node were determined using the probability-based magnitude of completeness method. In the second model, the hybrid ALM (HALM), as a «hybrid» between a grid-based and a zoning model, the Italian territory was divided into eight distinct regions that depended on the main tectonic regimes, and the local b-value variability was thus mapped using the regional b-values for each tectonic zone.

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Gulia, L., Wiemer, S. and Schorlemmer, D. (2010) “Asperity-based earthquake likelihood models for Italy”, Annals of Geophysics, 53(3), pp. 63–75. doi: 10.4401/ag-4843.

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