Forecasting New Zealand Earthquakes: Tradeoff Between Location and Likelihood

john's picture

The recent two blogs discussed the M6.5 Cook Strait earthquake, and the prospects for other events.  In the first post, I discussed a region of 100 km radius around the epicenter of the earthquake.  This circular area gave a somewhat low probability of an M> 6 earthquake within the next year. However, if we increase the size of the region, the results change dramatically.

In the screenshot below, I have used the polygon select tool to define a larger area which encompasses the Cook Strait. 

Here the probability of an M>6 earthquake rises to 36% within 1 year.  For the next 3 years, the pobability is a near-certain 99%. 

The lesson here is that there is a trade-off between probability and area. 

If you want to localize a possible future earthquake and look only at small areas, the probabilities are likely to be small. 

Looking at larger areas, where the future epicenter location is not as well determined, can give significantly larger probabilities.

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