On the Consistency of Earthquake Moment Release and Space Geodetic Strain Rates: Europe

Steven N. Ward

Published December 1, 1998, SCEC Contribution #429

In this paper, approximately 100 VLBI/SLR/GPS velocities map European strain rates from <0.09 × 10−8 to >9.0 × 10−8 yr−1 with regional uncertainties of 20 to 40 per cent. Kostrov’s formula translates these strain-rate values into regional geodetic moment rates M¯˙geodetic . Two other moment rates, M¯˙seismic , extracted from a 100-year historical catalogue and M¯˙plate , taken from plate-tectonic models, contrast the geodetic rates. In Mediterranean Europe, the ratios of M¯˙seismic to M¯˙geodetic are between 0.50 and 0.71. In Turkey the ratio falls to 0.22. Although aseismic deformation may contribute to the earthquake deficit (M¯˙seismic values less than M¯˙geodetic ), the evidence is not compelling because the magnitudes of the observed shortfalls coincide with the random variations expected in a 100-year catalogue. If the lack of aseismic deformation inferred from the 100-year catalogue holds true for longer periods, then much of Europe’s strain budget would have to be accommodated by more frequent or larger earthquakes than have been experienced this century to raise the ratios of M¯˙seismic to M¯˙geodetic to unity. Improved geological fault data bases, longer historical earthquake catalogues, and densification of the continent’s space geodetic network will clarify the roles of aseismic deformation versus statistical quiescence.

Key Words
earthquakes, Europe, moment release, space geodesy, strain rates

Ward, S. N. (1998). On the Consistency of Earthquake Moment Release and Space Geodetic Strain Rates: Europe. Geophysical Journal International, 135(3), 1011-1018. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-246X.1998.t01-2-00658.x .