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Earthquake recurrence inferred from paleoseismology

Elsevier Science & Technology
DOI: 10.1016/s1571-0866(03)01015-7
  • Earth Science


Publisher Summary This chapter describes three North American examples of earthquake history inferred from Quaternary geology and discusses earthquakes in the interior of the North America plate––in the New Madrid seismic zone of Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee. The study of prehistoric earthquakes––paleoseismology––provides long-term rates of earthquake occurrence to improve confidence in such forecasts. These earthquakes suggest the rates and patterns of recurrence that help define earthquake hazards. The eastern California shear zone, centered about 150 km northeast of Los Angeles, exhibits geologic evidence for prehistoric surface ruptures during episodes thousands of years apart. Typical intervals between the earthquakes span hundreds of years in the New Madrid and Cascadia examples and thousands of years in the eastern California example. Apart from enabling such estimates of recurrence intervals, paleoseismology can provide evidence for the regional clustering of earthquakes in seismic zones and for aperiodic rupture along the same part of a fault. Such findings have made paleoseismology an essential part of earthquake-hazard assessment in the United States.

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