Geoscientists have developed a global map to predict where giant earthquakes, like those that have devastated areas of Indonesia, Chile and Japan in recent years, are most likely to strike.
The map was published in the scientific journal, Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, last month.
Monash University’s Wouter Schellart and Nick Rawlinson of the University of Aberdeen studied earthquake data from as far back as 1900 and data on subduction zones, which is where tectonic plates (areas of the earth’s crust) meet and pass over each other.
From their research paper:
The researchers identified a number of subduction zone characteristics that were most likely to produce giant earthquakes of magnitude (Mw) 8.5 and up.
They assigned scores to each subduction zone segment, and found higher scores in recently affected areas as expected.
Schellart and Rawlinson highlighted the following areas as those likely to be particularly prone to giant earthquakes:
- the Hikurangi-southern Kermadec subduction segment;
- the Central America subduction zone segment;
- the Nankai-northeastern Ryukyu subduction segment;
- the western Hellenic subduction segment;
- the Lesser Antilles-Puerto Rico subduction zone; and
- the Manila subduction zone.
“For the Australian region subduction zones of particular significance are the Sunda subduction zone, running from the Andaman Islands along Sumatra and Java to Sumba, and the Hikurangi subduction segment offshore the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand,” Schellart said this week.
“Our research predicts that these zones are capable of producing giant earthquakes.
“Our work also predicts that several other subduction segments that surround eastern Australia (New Britain, San Cristobal, New Hebrides, Tonga, Puysegur), are not capable of producing giant earthquakes.”
There’s more in the research paper.
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