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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2018-98
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 27 Sep 2018

Research article | 27 Sep 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Solid Earth (SE).

From mapped faults to earthquake magnitude: A test on Italy with methodological implications

Fabio Trippetta1, Patrizio Petricca1, Andrea Billi2, Cristiano Collettini1,3, Marco Cuffaro2, Davide Scrocca2, Giancarlo Ventura4, Andrea Morgante4, Fabio Chiaravalli4, and Carlo Doglioni1,3 Fabio Trippetta et al.
  • 1Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Sapienza Universitá di Roma, Rome, Italy
  • 2Istituto di Geologia Ambientale e Geoingegneria, CNR, Rome, Italy
  • 3Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Rome, Italy
  • 4Sogin (Societá Gestione Impianti Nucleari) S.p.A., Rome, Italy

Abstract. The maximum possible earthquake magnitude is one of the fundamental parameters to assess possible threats and effects on populations and infrastructures. Empirical scaling laws between fault/slip dimensions and earthquake magnitude can be used to assess this fundamental parameter. Upon the assumption of the reactivability of any fault, these seismic scaling laws are used at the national scale in Italy, considering all known faults regardless of their age, stress field orientation, or strain rate. Italy is a suitable case for comparing the fault-size-derived seismic magnitudes with the existing accurate catalogues of historical-instrumental earthquakes. To do so, (1) a comprehensive catalogue of all known faults is compiled by merging the most complete databases available, (2) the potential expected maximum magnitude of earthquakes (PEMM) is simply derived from fault dimensions, and (3) the resulting PEMMs are compared (i.e., the mathematical difference) with catalogued earthquake magnitudes. Results show that the largest PEMMs as well as the largest differences between PEMMs and catalogued magnitudes are observed for poorly constrained faults (inferred from subsurface data). Where, in contrast, the knowledge of faults is geologically well constrained, the calculated PEMM is often consistent with the catalogued seismicity, with the 2σ value of the distribution of differences being 1.47 and reducing to 0.53 when considering only the M ≥ 6.5 earthquakes. This overall consistency gives credibility to the used empirical scaling laws; however, some large differences between the two datasets suggest the validation of this experiment elsewhere. The largest differences are probably connected with the partial activation of presumed long continuous faults. The main advantages of this method are its rapidity, once the faults are mapped, and its independence from temporal and (paleo)seismological information. The novelty is not the method, but its use at the national scale also for faults considered inactive. This method cannot, however, be a substitute for time-dependent (paleo)seismological methods for seismic hazard assessments. Rather, it can rapidly provide a perspective time-independent seismic potential of faults.

Fabio Trippetta et al.
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Fabio Trippetta et al.
Data sets

Revised dataset of known faults in Italy. P. Petricca, F. Trippetta, A. Billi, C. Collettini, M. Cuffaro, D. Scrocca, C. Doglioni, G. Ventura, A. Morgante, and F. Chiaravalli https://doi.org/10.5880/fidgeo.2018.003

Fabio Trippetta et al.
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Short summary
The maximum earthquake magnitude is one of the fundamental parameters to assess possible threats on populations. Considering all mapped faults in Italy, empirical scaling laws between fault dimensions and earthquake magnitude are used at the national scale. Results are compared with earthquake catalogues. The consistency between our results and the catalogues gives credibility to the method. Some large differences between the two datasets suggest the validation of this experiment elsewhere.
The maximum earthquake magnitude is one of the fundamental parameters to assess possible threats...
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