The present thesis collects results of research applying theory and methods of statistical seismology to the seismicity of Central America, a region with a complex tectonic setting controlled by the interaction of four major plates, namely the Caribbean, Cocos, Nazca and North American plates.
Three different earthquake catalogues were used for studies focused on stress in a tectonic volume, seismic hazard maps and seismicity patterns (precursors), covering the region 94ºW to 81ºW and 5ºN to 20ºN.
Variations in the b-value, the parameter in Gutenberg & Richter’s equation LogN=a-bM, as a function of depth in the subduction zone were investigated. High b-values were identified in the upper part of the slab at depths of 80-110km beneath Guatemala-El Salvador and at depths 130-170km beneath Nicaragua. These anomalies may be related to the generation of volcanism occurring above them. Time dependence of the b-value was also studied. Five case studies were selected (events with MS ≥7.2) for a detailed analysis. In three out of five cases, it was possible to link b-value minima to the time of occurrence of corresponding large events.
Seismic quiescence was mapped as a function of time and space by a griding technique. The characteristics of the quiescence were calculated using the statistics Z and ß and for Time Window lengths between 1 and 5 years. Five positive anomalies were found, which can be associated with large earthquakes (MS≥7.2).
Finally, a Monte Carlo approach was utilized to evaluate the ground motion hazard and its uncertainties in northern Central America. A set of new seismic hazard maps exhibiting probabilistic values of peak ground acceleration (PGA) with 50%, 10%, and 5% probabilities of exceedance (PE) in 50 years is presented for a large area of northern Central America, including El Salvador and Guatemala.