A recent report estimated the probability of an earthquake greater than magnitude 7 on the southern section of the San Andreas fault at approximately 60% over the next thirty years. How is that probability calculated?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Please provide a reference for your report $\endgroup$
    – arkaia
    Feb 3 '15 at 1:47

The probabilities are generally based on long term recurrence rates. You can read about the details in the Working Group on Earthquake Probabilities page Earthquake Probability Models.

The last major earthquake on Southern SAF was in 1857 which means that the average slip deficit on the fault is around ~8.0 m (the Pacific plate is sliding past at a rate of 55 mm/yr). Using empirical scaling laws you can estimate the magnitude of the earthquake that is required to release the accumulated strain. However, the 8.0 m slip deficit is an upper bound as some of the deformation in the region is accommodated by other fault systems, e.g., Elsinore and San Jacinto faults (sub-parallel to SAF) as well as the Eastern California Shear Zone which was the site of Landers/Hector Mine earthquakes in the 90s.

  • $\begingroup$ I just made the link clear, as sometimes links 'rot'. $\endgroup$
    – user889
    Feb 3 '15 at 9:18
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you - it will take me a while to understand the link, but I follow the concept. There appear to be (at least two possibilities: one is that part of the San Andreas ruptures every 150 years, the other is that when the whole fault has ruptured, (which it has since 1680) there is a lull before it starts rupturing again. Is this correct? $\endgroup$
    – Daijohn
    Feb 5 '15 at 19:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.