Teleseismic Search for Slow Precursors to Large Earthquakes

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Science  02 Dec 1994:
Vol. 266, Issue 5190, pp. 1547-1551
DOI: 10.1126/science.266.5190.1547


Some large earthquakes display low-frequency seismic anomalies that are best explained by episodes of slow, smooth deformation immediately before their high-frequency origin times. Analysis of the low-frequency spectra of 107 shallow-focus earthquakes revealed 20 events that had slow precursors (95 percent confidence level); 19 were slow earthquakes associated with the ocean ridge-transform system, and 1 was a slow earthquake on an intracontinental transform fault in the East African Rift system. These anomalous earthquakes appear to be compound events, each comprising one or more ordinary (fast) ruptures in the shallow seismogenic zone initiated by a precursory slow event in the adjacent or subjacent lithosphere.