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Authors: Riguzzi, F.* 
Crespi, M.* 
Devoti, R.* 
Doglioni, C.* 
Pietrantonio, G.* 
Pisani, A. R.* 
Title: Geodetic strain rate and earthquake size: new clues for seismic hazard studies
Issue Date: Sep-2012
Series/Report no.: /206-207 (2012)
DOI: 10.1016/j.pepi.2012.07.005
Keywords: Strain rate
Gutenberg–Richter law
Bayesian analysis
Seismic hazard
Italian area
L’ Aquila Emilia earthquakes
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.06. Seismology::04.06.99. General or miscellaneous 
Abstract: Earthquakes deliver in few seconds the elastic energy accumulated in hundreds of years. Where and when will be the next earthquake remains a difficult task due to the chaotic behaviour of seismicity and the present lack of available tools to measure the threshold of the crustal strength. However, the analysis of the background strain rate in Italy and the comparison with seismicity shows that larger earthquakes occur with higher probability in areas of lower strain rate. We present a statistical study in which a relationship linking the earthquake size (magnitude) and the total strain rate (SR) is found. We combine the information provided by the Gutenberg–Richter law (GR) of earthquake occurrence and the probability density distribution of SR in the Italian area. Following a Bayesian approach, we found a simple family of exponential decrease curves describing the probability that an event of a given size occurs within a given class of SR. This approach relies on the evidence that elastic energy accumulates in those areas where faults are locked and the SR is lower. Therefore, in tectonically active areas, SR lows are more prone to release larger amount of energy with respect to adjacent zones characterised by higher strain rates. The SR map of Italy, compared with 5 years seismicity supports this result and may become a powerful tool for identifying the areas more prone to the next earthquakes.
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