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Revision of magnitudes of large shallow earthquakes, 1897-1912



Revision of magnitudes of large shallow earthquakes, 1897-1912



Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors 33(1): 0-11



In previous research, trace amplitudes of surface wave maxima recorded by undamped Milne seismographs were used to determine the surface-wave magnitudes Ms of large shallow earthquakes which occurred prior to 1912. For this purpose, the effective gain of these instruments was calibrated by using the surface-wave magnitudes Ms(GR) which were calculated from the unpublished worksheets for Seismicity of the Earth of Gutenberg and Richter. In this paper, the real quality of Ms(GR) is critically re-evaluated by using independent sets of data. It is found that Ms(GR) for the period 1904–1909 is considerably overestimated. The average excess from the real Ms is 0.5 units for 1904–1906, 0.4 for 1907, 0.3 for 1908–1909 and 0.0 for 1910–1912. This overestimation is so systematic and large that the previous results are all redetermined. The average effective gain of Milne instruments is revised to be 21.9; previously, the gain depended on Ms. This revision results in systematic reduction in the previously assigned magnitudes. The revised values of Ms for 264 shallow earthquakes, with Ms=6.8 and over in the period 1897–1912 inclusive, are listed. The present revision is large enough to preclude the possibility of the high activity of large shallow earthquakes around the turn of the century. The present results have a direct effect on all the magnitude catalogues of shallow earthquakes which occurred prior to 1909.

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Accession: 019923983

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DOI: 10.1016/0031-9201(83)90002-x


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