Publications

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2016
Fan, WY, Shearer PM.  2016.  Local near instantaneously dynamically triggered aftershocks of large earthquakes. Science. 353:1133-1136.   10.1126/science.aag0013   AbstractWebsite

Aftershocks are often triggered by static- and/or dynamic-stress changes caused by mainshocks. The relative importance of the two triggering mechanisms is controversial at near-to-intermediate distances. We detected and located 48 previously unidentified large early aftershocks triggered by earthquakes with magnitudes between >= 7 and 8 within a few fault lengths (approximately 300 kilometers), during times that high-amplitude surface waves arrive from the mainshock (less than 200 seconds). The observations indicate that near-to-intermediate-field dynamic triggering commonly exists and fundamentally promotes aftershock occurrence. The mainshocks and their nearby early aftershocks are located at major subduction zones and continental boundaries, and mainshocks with all types of faulting-mechanisms (normal, reverse, and strike-slip) can trigger early aftershocks.

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.

2009
Shearer, PM, Lin GQ.  2009.  Evidence for Mogi doughnut behavior in seismicity preceding small earthquakes in southern California. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 114   10.1029/2008jb005982   AbstractWebsite

We examine the average space-time behavior of seismicity preceding M 2-5 earthquakes in southern California from 1981 to 2005 using a high-resolution catalog and identify regions of enhanced activity in a 1-day period preceding larger earthquakes at distances comparable to their predicted source radii. The difference in precursory behavior between large and small earthquakes is subtle but statistically significant when averaged over many earthquakes, and it has similarities to the "Mogi doughnut'' seismicity pattern observed to occur prior to some M 6 and larger earthquakes. These results indicate that many standard earthquake triggering models do not account for all of the processes involved in earthquake occurrence.