Research ArticleEARTHQUAKES

Earthquake forecasting during the complex Amatrice-Norcia seismic sequence

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Science Advances  13 Sep 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 9, e1701239
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701239

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Abstract

Earthquake forecasting is the ultimate challenge for seismologists, because it condenses the scientific knowledge about the earthquake occurrence process, and it is an essential component of any sound risk mitigation planning. It is commonly assumed that, in the short term, trustworthy earthquake forecasts are possible only for typical aftershock sequences, where the largest shock is followed by many smaller earthquakes that decay with time according to the Omori power law. We show that the current Italian operational earthquake forecasting system issued statistically reliable and skillful space-time-magnitude forecasts of the largest earthquakes during the complex 2016–2017 Amatrice-Norcia sequence, which is characterized by several bursts of seismicity and a significant deviation from the Omori law. This capability to deliver statistically reliable forecasts is an essential component of any program to assist public decision-makers and citizens in the challenging risk management of complex seismic sequences.

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