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Spectral coherence between climate oscillations and the M >=7 earthquake historical worldwide record


Nicola Scafetta1, Adriano Mazzarella1

1 Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, dell’Ambiente e delle Risorse, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Largo San Marcellino 10, 80138 Napoli, Italy
Natural Hazards, 2015
We compare the NOAA Significant Earthquake Historical database versus typical climatic indices and the length of the day (LOD). The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) record is mainly adopted because most of the analyzed earthquakes occurred at the land boundaries of the Pacific Plate. The NOAA catalog contains information on destructive earthquakes. Using advanced spectral and magnitude squared coherence methodologies, we found that the magnitude M >= 7 earthquake annual frequency and the PDO record share common frequencies at about 9-, 20-, and 50- to 60-year periods, which are typically found in climate records and among the solar and lunar harmonics. The two records are negatively correlated at the 20- and 50- to 60-year timescales and positively correlated at the 9-year and lower timescales. We use a simple harmonic model to forecast the M>=7 significant earthquake annual frequency for the next decades. The next 15 years should be characterized by a relatively high M >= 7 earthquake activity (on average 10–12 occurrences per year) with possible maxima in 2020 and 2030 and a minimum in the 2040s. On the 60-year scale, the LOD is found to be highly correlated with the earthquake record (r = 0.51 for 1900–1994, and r = 0.95 for 1910–1970). However, the LOD variations appear to be too small to be the primary earthquake trigger. Our results suggest that large earthquakes are triggered by crust deformations induced by, and/or linked to climatic and oceanic oscillations induced by astronomical forcings, which also regulate the LOD.
Key-words: Earthquakes, Climate oscillations, Length of the Day, Natural Hazards Predictions