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Statistical analysis of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation and sea-floor seismicity in the eastern tropical Pacific

Guillas, S; Day, SJ; McGuire, B; (2010) Statistical analysis of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation and sea-floor seismicity in the eastern tropical Pacific. PHILOS T R SOC A , 368 (1919) 2481 - 2500. 10.1098/rsta.2010.0044.

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Abstract

We present statistical evidence for a temporal link between variations in the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the occurrence of earthquakes on the East Pacific Rise (EPR). We adopt a zero-inflated Poisson regression model to represent the relationship between the number of earthquakes in the Easter microplate on the EPR and ENSO (expressed using the southern oscillation index (SOI) for east Pacific sea-level pressure anomalies) from February 1973 to February 2009. We also examine the relationship between the numbers of earthquakes and sea levels, as retrieved by Topex/Poseidon from October 1992 to July 2002. We observe a significant (95% confidence level) positive influence of SOI on seismicity: positive SOI values trigger more earthquakes over the following 2 to 6 months than negative SOI values. There is a significant negative influence of absolute sea levels on seismicity (at 6 months lag). We propose that increased seismicity is associated with ENSO-driven sea-surface gradients (rising from east to west) in the equatorial Pacific, leading to a reduction in ocean-bottom pressure over the EPR by a few kilopascal. This relationship is opposite to reservoir-triggered seismicity and suggests that EPR fault activity may be triggered by plate flexure associated with the reduced pressure.

Type:Article
Title:Statistical analysis of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation and sea-floor seismicity in the eastern tropical Pacific
DOI:10.1098/rsta.2010.0044
Keywords:climate, El Nino-Southern Oscillation, seismicity, East Pacific Rise, ocean loading, plate flexure, RESERVOIR-INDUCED SEISMICITY, POSSIBLE MODULATION, TECTONIC STRESSES, PAVLOF VOLCANO, OCEAN LOAD, EARTHQUAKES, REGRESSION, ERUPTIONS, MODELS, RISE
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Statistical Science

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