National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2003

Time-clustering behavior of spreading-center seismicity between 15–35°N on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge: Observations from hydroacoustic monitoring

Bohnenstiehl, D.R., M. Tolstoy, D.K. Smith, C.G. Fox, and R.P. Dziak

Phys. Earth Planet. Inter., 138(2), 147–161, doi: 10.1016/S0031-9201(03)00113-4 (2003)

An earthquake catalog derived from the detection of seismically-generated T-waves is used to study the time-clustering behavior of moderate-size (≳3.0 M) earthquakes between 15 and 35°N along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR). Within this region, the distribution of inter-event times is consistent with a non-periodic, non-random, clustered process. The highest degrees of clustering are associated temporally with large mainshock-aftershock sequences; however, some swarm-like activity also is evident. Temporal fluctuations characterized by a power spectral density P(f) that decays as 1/fα are present within the time sequence, with α ranging from 0.12 to 0.55 for different regions of the spreading axis. This behavior is negligible at time scales less than ~5 × 103 s, and earthquake occurrence becomes less clustered (smaller α) as increasing size thresholds are applied to the catalog. A power-law size-frequency scaling for Mid-Atlantic Ridge earthquakes also can be demonstrated using the distribution of acoustic magnitudes, or source levels. Although fractal seismic behavior has been linked to the structure of the underlying fault population in other environments, power-law fault size distributions have not been observed widely in the mid-ocean ridge setting.

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