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Ensembles of ETAS models provide optimal operational earthquake forecasting during swarms: Insights from the 2015 San Ramon, California swarm

October 1, 2019

Earthquake swarms, typically modeled as time-varying changes in background seismicity that are driven by external processes such as fluid flow or aseismic creep, present challenges for operational earthquake forecasting. While the time decay of aftershock sequences can be estimated with the modified Omori law, it is difficult to forecast the temporal behavior of seismicity rates during a swarm. To explore these issues, we apply the Epidemic-Type Aftershock Sequence (ETAS) model (Ogata, JASA, 1988) to the 2015 San Ramon, California swarm, which lasted several weeks and had almost 100 2≤M≤3.6 earthquakes. We develop 3-day forecasts during the swarm based on an ETAS model fit to all prior seismicity in the region as well as an ETAS model fit only to previous swarms in the region, which is better at capturing the higher background rate during the swarm. We also explore forecasts where the background rate is updated periodically during the swarm using data over different lookback windows and find that generally these models perform better than the models where the background rate is fixed. Finally, we construct ensemble forecasts by combining the different models weighted according to their performance. The ensemble forecasts outperform all of the individual models and allow us to avoid making arbitrary choices at the outset of a swarm as to which single model will perform the best.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title Ensembles of ETAS models provide optimal operational earthquake forecasting during swarms: Insights from the 2015 San Ramon, California swarm
DOI 10.1785/0120190020
Authors Andrea L. Llenos, Andrew J. Michael
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Series Number
Index ID 70206403
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earthquake Science Center

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