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Periodic, Chaotic, and Doubled Earthquake Recurrence Intervals on the Deep San Andreas Fault

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Science  11 Jun 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5984, pp. 1385-1388
DOI: 10.1126/science.1189741

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Abstract

Earthquake recurrence histories may provide clues to the timing of future events, but long intervals between large events obscure full recurrence variability. In contrast, small earthquakes occur frequently, and recurrence intervals are quantifiable on a much shorter time scale. In this work, I examine an 8.5-year sequence of more than 900 recurring low-frequency earthquake bursts composing tremor beneath the San Andreas fault near Parkfield, California. These events exhibit tightly clustered recurrence intervals that, at times, oscillate between ~3 and ~6 days, but the patterns sometimes change abruptly. Although the environments of large and low-frequency earthquakes are different, these observations suggest that similar complexity might underlie sequences of large earthquakes.

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