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Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 8, issue 4/5
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 8, 193–196, 2001
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-8-193-2001
© Author(s) 2001. This work is licensed under
the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

Special issue: Achievements and Directions in Nonlinear Geophysics

Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 8, 193–196, 2001
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-8-193-2001
© Author(s) 2001. This work is licensed under
the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

  31 Oct 2001

31 Oct 2001

Self-organized criticality: Does it have anything to do with criticality and is it useful?

D. L. Turcotte D. L. Turcotte
  • Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Snee Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

Abstract. Three aspects of complexity are fractals, chaos, and self-organized criticality. There are many examples of the applicability of fractals in solid-earth geophysics, such as earthquakes and landforms. Chaos is widely accepted as being applicable to a variety of geophysical phenomena, for instance, tectonics and mantle convection. Several simple cellular-automata models have been said to exhibit self-organized criticality. Examples include the sandpile, forest fire and slider-blocks models. It is believed that these are directly applicable to landslides, actual forest fires, and earthquakes, respectively. The slider-block model has been shown to clearly exhibit deterministic chaos and fractal behaviour. The concept of self-similar cascades can explain self-organized critical behaviour. This approach also illustrates the similarities and differences with critical phenomena through association with the site-percolation and diffusion-limited aggregation models.

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