The potential of variations of b-values in the G-R relation, logN=a-bM as earthquake precursors for small events (rockbursts) in Zinkgruvan mine, Sweden and for tectonic (large) earthquakes in the Andaman-Sumatra region were investigated.
The temporal frequency-magnitude distribution, b(t), of rockbursts in Zinkgruvan mine was examined using high quality data recorded during the period November 1996 to April 2004 with magnitude ranges from Mw= -2.4 to 2.6. A sliding time-window was applied to compute b-values. The windows contain 50 events and were shifted with steps of 5 events. The results indicated that b-values significantly drop preceding rockbursts of magnitude Mw≥1.6.
Temporal and spatial variations of b-values were also examined for tectonic earthquakes, magnitude Mw≥4.1, in the Andaman-Sumatra region. Earthquake data from the ISC, IDC, NEIC and HVRD earthquake catalogs for a period from 01/01/1995 to 12/26/2004 were used for analysis. Spatial variations of b were calculated from circular areas containing 50 events, with nodes on a 0.5° x 0.5° grid. The analysis shows that b(t) estimates using data from different catalogs are comparable and that large earthquakes are preceded by a drop in b(t) of about 0.3~1. The distribution of stress deduced from b-value mapping shows that large earthquakes occurred in the high stress, i.e. low b-value, areas.
Aftershock sequences of the Mw=9, December 26, 2004 and the Mw=8.7, March 28, 2005 shocks were investigated by using the same methods. Results from aftershock sequences show similar behaviour as for the large and presumed independent main events.
The observed variations of b-values with time and in space support the hypothesis that b-values have a precursory potential. The method can be used for a wide range of earthquake magnitude, from microearthquakes (Mw<3) to giant tectonic shocks (Mw~9) and for both of independent shocks and aftershocks.