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Authors: Petricca, Patrizio* 
Carminati, Eugenio* 
Doglioni, Carlo* 
Title: Estimation of the maximum earthquakes magnitude based on potential brittle volume and strain rate: The Italy test case
Journal: Tectonophysics 
Series/Report no.: /836 (2022)
Publisher: Elsevier
Issue Date: 18-May-2022
DOI: 10.1016/j.tecto.2022.229405
Keywords: Earthquake magnitude
Maximum earthquake in Italy
Magnitude vs crustal volume
Seismic hazard
Subject Classification04.07. Tectonophysics 
04.06. Seismology 
Abstract: One major critical issue in seismic hazard analysis deals with the computation of the maximum earthquake magnitude expected for a given region. Its estimation is usually based on the analysis of past seismicity that is incomplete by definition, or derived from the dimension of faults through empirical relationships with the intrinsic uncertainty in source characterization. Here, we propose a workflow aimed at providing a time- independent estimate for the maximum possible magnitude based on geological and geophysical evidence. Our estimate is also source unrelated as it is constrained by the seismic brittle volume of the crust that scales with the effective seismic energy. The seismic brittle volume is calculated considering fault kinematics and rock rheology (i.e., the brittle-ductile transition depth) over a grid that covers the entire study area. The maximum earthquake magnitude is calculated at each point of the grid based on a volume/magnitude empirical rela- tionship. We apply this model to Italy for which we propose a map of the maximum possible magnitudes. Maximum predicted magnitudes are 7.3 ± 0.25 for thrust faulting, 7.6 ± 0.77 for normal faulting and 7.6 ± 0.37 for strike-slip faulting (± deviation from the mean value calculated at each node). These magnitudes are locally higher than the historical record. This could be due to an overestimation of the involved volumes; smaller volumes and lower magnitudes may occur where faults are detached at decollements shallower than the brittle ductile transition or where they behave aseismically. Alternatively, strong or major earthquakes could be possible, but they have longer recurrence time and they have never been recorded yet in Italy. Regardless these values are fully reliable or not, the recurrence of earthquakes with the predicted magnitude is related to current strain rates. We conclude that a large part of the Italian territory is prone to trigger Mw > 5 earthquakes.
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