On parameter bias in earthquake sequence models using data assimilation

Arundhuti Banerjee, Ylona van Dinther, Femke C. Vossepoel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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The feasibility of physics-based forecasting of earthquakes depends on how well models can be calibrated to represent earthquake scenarios given uncertainties in both models and data. We investigate whether data assimilation can estimate current and future fault states, i.e., slip rate and shear stress, in the presence of a bias in the friction parameter. We perform state estimation as well as combined state-parameter estimation using a sequential-importance resampling particle filter in a zero-dimensional (0D) generalization of the Burridge–Knopoff spring–block model with rate-and-state friction. Minor changes in the friction parameter ϵ can lead to different state trajectories and earthquake characteristics. The performance of data assimilation with respect to estimating the fault state in the presence of a parameter bias in ϵ depends on the magnitude of the bias. A small parameter bias in ϵ (+3 %) can be compensated for very well using state estimation (R2 = 0.99), whereas an intermediate bias (−14 %) can only be partly compensated for using state estimation (R2 = 0.47). When increasing particle spread by accounting for model error and an additional resampling step, R2 increases to 0.61. However, when there is a large bias (−43 %) in ϵ, only state-parameter estimation can fully account for the parameter bias (R2 = 0.97). Thus, simultaneous state and parameter estimation effectively separates the error contributions from friction and shear stress to correctly estimate the current and future shear stress and slip rate. This illustrates the potential of data assimilation for the estimation of earthquake sequences and provides insight into its application in other nonlinear processes with uncertain parameters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101–115
Number of pages15
JournalNonlinear Processes in Geophysics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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