Probing failure susceptibilities of earthquake faults using small-quake tidal correlations

Braden A.W. Brinkman, Michael Leblanc, Yehuda Ben-Zion, Jonathan T. Uhl, Karin A. Dahmen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mitigating the devastating economic and humanitarian impact of large earthquakes requires signals for forecasting seismic events. Daily tide stresses were previously thought to be insufficient for use as such a signal. Recently, however, they have been found to correlate significantly with small earthquakes, just before large earthquakes occur. Here we present a simple earthquake model to investigate whether correlations between daily tidal stresses and small earthquakes provide information about the likelihood of impending large earthquakes. The model predicts that intervals of significant correlations between small earthquakes and ongoing low-amplitude periodic stresses indicate increased fault susceptibility to large earthquake generation. The results agree with the recent observations of large earthquakes preceded by time periods of significant correlations between smaller events and daily tide stresses. We anticipate that incorporating experimentally determined parameters and fault-specific details into the model may provide new tools for extracting improved probabilities of impending large earthquakes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6157
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Feb 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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