Publications

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2012
Shearer, PM.  2012.  Space-time clustering of seismicity in California and the distance dependence of earthquake triggering. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 117 Abstract

Using two recent high-resolution earthquake catalogs, I examine clustering in California seismicity by plotting the average rate of earthquakes as a function of both space and time from target events of M 2 to 5. Comparisons between pre- and post-target event activity can be used to resolve earthquake-to-earthquake triggering associated with target events of different magnitudes. The results are more complicated than predicted by computer simulations of earthquake triggering that begin with background events occurring at random times. In particular, at least some of the temporal clustering of seismicity at short scales (0.1 to 5 km) does not appear to be caused by local earthquake triggering, but instead reflects an underlying physical process that temporarily increases the seismicity rate, such as is often hypothesized to drive earthquake swarms. Earthquake triggering for M < 4.5 earthquakes is only resolvable in average seismicity rates at times less than about one day and to distances of less than about 10 km, and its linear density decreases as r(-1.5) to r(-2.5), significantly steeper than some previous studies have found.

Shearer, PM.  2012.  Self-similar earthquake triggering, Bath's law, and foreshock/aftershock magnitudes: Simulations, theory, and results for southern California. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 117   10.1029/2011jb008957   AbstractWebsite

Bath's law, the observation that the largest aftershock is, on average, 1.2 magnitudes smaller than its main shock, independent of main shock size, suggests some degree of self-similarity in earthquake triggering. This behavior can largely be explained with triggering models in which the increased triggering caused by larger magnitude events is exactly compensated for by their decreased numbers, and these models can account for many features of real seismicity catalogs. The Bath's law magnitude difference of 1.2 places a useful constraint on aftershock productivity in these models. A more general test of triggering self-similarity is to plot foreshock and aftershock rates as a function of magnitude m relative to the main shock magnitude, m(max), of the largest event in the sequence. Both computer simulations and theory show that these dN/dm curves should be nearly coincident, regardless of main shock magnitude. The aftershock dN/dm curves have the same Gutenberg-Richter b-value as the underlying distribution, but the foreshock dN/dm curves have the same b-value only for foreshock magnitudes less than about m(max) - 3. For larger foreshock values, the dN/dm curve flattens and converges with the aftershock dN/dm curve at m = m(max). This effect can explain observations of anomalously low b-values in some foreshock sequences and the decrease in apparent aftershock to foreshock ratios for small magnitude main shocks. Observed apparent foreshock and aftershock dN/dm curves for events close in space and time to M 2.5 to 5.5 main shocks in southern California appear roughly self-similar, but differ from triggering simulations is several key respects: (1) the aftershock b-values are significantly lower than that of the complete catalog, (2) the number of aftershocks is too large to be consistent with Bath's law, and (3) the foreshock-to-aftershock ratio is too large to be consistent with Bath's law. These observations indicate for southern California that triggering self-similarity is not obeyed for these small main shocks or that the space/time clustering is not primarily caused by earthquake-to-earthquake triggering.

2008
Houser, C, Masters G, Shearer P, Laske G.  2008.  Shear and compressional velocity models of the mantle from cluster analysis of long-period waveforms. Geophysical Journal International. 174:195-212.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.2008.03763.x   AbstractWebsite

We present a new technique for the efficient measurement of the traveltimes of long period body wave phases. The technique is based on the fact that all arrivals of a particular seismic phase are remarkably similar in shape for a single event. This allows the application of cross-correlation techniques that are usually used in a regional context to measure precise global differential times. The analysis is enhanced by the inclusion of a clustering algorithm that automatically clusters waveforms by their degree of similarity. This allows the algorithm to discriminate against unusual or distorted waveforms and makes for an extremely efficient measurement technique. This technique can be applied to any seismic phase that is observed over a reasonably large distance range. Here, we present the results of applying the algorithm to the long-period channels of all data archived at the IRIS DMC from 1976 to 2005 for the seismic phases S and P (from 23 degrees to 100 degrees) and SS and PP (from 50 degrees to 170 degrees). The resulting large data sets are inverted along with existing surface wave and updated differential traveltime measurements for new mantle models of S and P velocity. The resolution of the new model is enhanced, particularly, in the mid-mantle where SS and PP turn. We find that slow anomalies in the central Pacific and Africa extend from the core-mantle boundary to the upper mantle, but their direct connection to surface hotspots is beyond our resolution. Furthermore, we find that fast anomalies that are likely associated with subducting slabs disappear between 1700 and 2500 km, and thus are not continuous features from the upper to lower mantle despite our extensive coverage and high resolution of the mid-mantle.