Changing Probability for Banda Sea Earthquake M7.1 December 10, 2012

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On December 10, 2012, a magnitude M7.1 earthquake occurred at 16:53:09 UTC (December 11, 01:53:09 local time) in the Banda Sea, in the area where the Australian tectonic plate, the Eurasian plate, and the Philippine Sea plate converge.  As large earthquakes go, this one was not particularly significant because it occurred at a depth of about 160 km (100 miles) in a part of the plate undergoing the process of subduction.  Probably few felt it, and because of the depth, it produced no tsunami.

However, it does make an interesting test case for observing changes in forecast probability contours.  The figure below shows the Banda Sea area, between Australia and Indonesia.  The left side image is prior to the occurrence of the earthquake, whose epicenter is shown by the small red star.  The right side image is from today, December 13, 2012.  As can be seen, significant changes occurred in the red box surrounding the area impacted by the earthquake.  Prior to the event, the probability of such an event was clearly elevated (left).  After several days, the probability of another such event was clearly much lower (right), as one would expect if significant stress was relieved by the earthquake.

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