Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Estimating earthquake-rupture rates on a fault or fault system

January 1, 2011

Previous approaches used to determine the rates of different earthquakes on a fault have made assumptions regarding segmentation, have been difficult to document and reproduce, and have lacked the ability to satisfy all available data constraints. We present a relatively objective and reproducible inverse methodology for determining the rate of different ruptures on a fault or fault system. The data used in the inversion include slip rate, event rate, and other constraints such as an optional a priori magnitude-frequency distribution. We demonstrate our methodology by solving for the long-term rate of ruptures on the southern San Andreas fault. Our results imply that a Gutenberg-Richter distribution is consistent with the data available for this fault; however, more work is needed to test the robustness of this assertion. More importantly, the methodology is extensible to an entire fault system (thereby including multifault ruptures) and can be used to quantify the relative benefits of collecting additional paleoseismic data at different sites.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2011
Title Estimating earthquake-rupture rates on a fault or fault system
DOI 10.1785/0120100004
Authors E. H. Field, M.T. Page
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Series Number
Index ID 70035814
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earthquake Science Center