Articles | Volume 12, issue 1
03 Jan 2005
 | 03 Jan 2005

Complex networks of earthquakes and aftershocks

M. Baiesi and M. Paczuski

Abstract. We invoke a metric to quantify the correlation between any two earthquakes. This provides a simple and straightforward alternative to using space-time windows to detect aftershock sequences and obviates the need to distinguish main shocks from aftershocks. Directed networks of earthquakes are constructed by placing a link, directed from the past to the future, between pairs of events that are strongly correlated. Each link has a weight giving the relative strength of correlation such that the sum over the incoming links to any node equals unity for aftershocks, or zero if the event had no correlated predecessors. A correlation threshold is set to drastically reduce the size of the data set without losing significant information. Events can be aftershocks of many previous events, and also generate many aftershocks. The probability distribution for the number of incoming and outgoing links are both scale free, and the networks are highly clustered. The Omori law holds for aftershock rates up to a decorrelation time that scales with the magnitude, m, of the initiating shock as tcutoff~10β m with β~-3/4. Another scaling law relates distances between earthquakes and their aftershocks to the magnitude of the initiating shock. Our results are inconsistent with the hypothesis of finite aftershock zones. We also find evidence that seismicity is dominantly triggered by small earthquakes. Our approach, using concepts from the modern theory of complex networks, together with a metric to estimate correlations, opens up new avenues of research, as well as new tools to understand seismicity.