Articles | Volume 18, issue 5
Research article
27 Sep 2011
Research article |  | 27 Sep 2011

Synchronization and desynchronization in the Olami-Feder-Christensen earthquake model and potential implications for real seismicity

S. Hergarten and R. Krenn

Abstract. The Olami-Feder-Christensen model is probably the most studied model in the context of self-organized criticality and reproduces several statistical properties of real earthquakes. We investigate and explain synchronization and desynchronization of earthquakes in this model in the nonconservative regime and its relevance for the power-law distribution of the event sizes (Gutenberg-Richter law) and for temporal clustering of earthquakes. The power-law distribution emerges from synchronization, and its scaling exponent can be derived as τ = 1.775 from the scaling properties of the rupture areas' perimeter. In contrast, the occurrence of foreshocks and aftershocks according to Omori's law is closely related to desynchronization. This mechanism of foreshock and aftershock generation differs strongly from the widespread idea of spontaneous triggering and gives an idea why some even large earthquakes are not preceded by any foreshocks in nature.