J. Phys. I France
Volume 5, Numéro 5, May 1995
Page(s) 607 - 619
DOI: 10.1051/jp1:1995154
J. Phys. I France 5 (1995) 607-619

Complex Critical Exponents from Renormalization Group Theory of Earthquakes: Implications for Earthquake Predictions

Didier Sornette1 and Charles G. Sammis2

1  Laboratoire de physique de la Matière Condensée, CNRS URA 190, Université des Sciences, B.P. 70, Parc Valrose, 06108 Nice Cedex 2, France
2  Department of Earth Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0740, USA

(Received 31 January 1995, received in final form 3 February 1995, accepted 7 February 1995)

Several authors have proposed discrete renormalization group models of earthquakes, viewing them as a kind of dynamical critical phenomena. Here, we propose that the assumed discrete scale invariance stems from the irreversible and intermittent nature of rupture which ensures a breakdown of translational invariance. As a consequence, we show that the renormalization group entails complex critical exponents, describing log-periodic corrections to the leading scaling behavior. We use the mathematical form of this solution to fit the time to failure dependence of the Benioff strain on the approach of large earthquakes. This might provide a new technique for earthquake prediction for which we present preliminary tests on the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in northern California and on a recent build-up of seismic activity on a segment of the Aleutian-Island seismic zone. The earthquake phenomenology of precursory phenomena such as the causal sequence of quiescence and foreshocks is captured by the general structure of the mathematical solution of the renormalization group.

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