Articles | Volume 17, issue 2
31 Mar 2010
 | 31 Mar 2010

Record-breaking earthquake intervals in a global catalogue and an aftershock sequence

M. R. Yoder, D. L. Turcotte, and J. B. Rundle

Abstract. For the purposes of this study, an interval is the elapsed time between two earthquakes in a designated region; the minimum magnitude for the earthquakes is prescribed. A record-breaking interval is one that is longer (or shorter) than preceding intervals; a starting time must be specified. We consider global earthquakes with magnitudes greater than 5.5 and show that the record-breaking intervals are well estimated by a Poissonian (random) theory. We also consider the aftershocks of the 2004 Parkfield earthquake and show that the record-breaking intervals are approximated by very different statistics. In both cases, we calculate the number of record-breaking intervals (nrb) and the record-breaking interval durations Δtrb as a function of "natural time", the number of elapsed events. We also calculate the ratio of record-breaking long intervals to record-breaking short intervals as a function of time, r(t), which is suggested to be sensitive to trends in noisy time series data. Our data indicate a possible precursory signal to large earthquakes that is consistent with accelerated moment release (AMR) theory.