A New Hybrid STEP/Coulomb model for Aftershock Forecasting

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 11:35 AM
Sandy Steacy1, Abigail Jimenez1 and Matt Gerstenberger2, (1)University of Ulster, Coleraine, United Kingdom, (2)GNS Science, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
Aftershock forecasting models tend to fall into two classes – purely statistical approaches based on clustering, b-value, and the Omori-Utsu law; and Coulomb rate-state models which relate the forecast increase in rate to the magnitude of the Coulomb stress change. Recently, hybrid models combining physical and statistical forecasts have begun to be developed, for example by Bach and Hainzl (2012) and Steacy et al. (2013). The latter approach combined Coulomb stress patterns with the STEP (short-term earthquake probability) model by redistributing expected rate from areas with decreased stress to regions where the stress had increased. The chosen ‘Coulomb Redistribution Parameter’ (CRP) was 0.93, based on California earthquakes, which meant that 93% of the total rate was expected to occur where the stress had increased. The model was tested against the Canterbury sequence and the main result was that the new model performed at least as well as, and often better than, STEP when tested against retrospective data but that STEP was generally better in pseudo-prospective tests that involved data actually available within the first 10 days of each event of interest. The authors suggested that the major reason for this discrepancy was uncertainty in the slip models and, particularly, in the geometries of the faults involved in each complex major event. Here we develop a variant of the STEP/Coulomb model in which the CRP varies based on the percentage of aftershocks that occur in the positively stressed areas during the forecast learning period. We find that this variant significantly outperforms both STEP and the previous hybrid model in almost all cases, even when the input Coulomb model is quite poor. Our results suggest that this approach might be more useful than Coulomb rate-state when the underlying slip model is not well constrained due to the dependence of that method on the magnitude of the Coulomb stress change.