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A prospective earthquake forecast experiment in the western Pacific

Abstract

Since the beginning of 2009, the Collaboratory for the Study of Earthquake Predictability (CSEP) has been conducting an earthquake forecast experiment in the western Pacific. This experiment is an extension of the Kagan—Jackson experiments begun 15 years earlier and is a prototype for future global earthquake predictability experiments. At the beginning of each year, seismicity models make a spatially gridded forecast of the number of Mw≥ 5.8 earthquakes expected in the next year. For the three participating statistical models, we analyse the first two years of this experiment. We use likelihood-based metrics to evaluate the consistency of the forecasts with the observed target earthquakes and we apply measures based on Student's t-test and the Wilcoxon signed-rank test to compare the forecasts. Overall, a simple smoothed seismicity model (TripleS) performs the best, but there are some exceptions that indicate continued experiments are vital to fully understand the stability of these models, the robustness of model selection and, more generally, earthquake predictability in this region. We also estimate uncertainties in our results that are caused by uncertainties in earthquake location and seismic moment. Our uncertainty estimates are relatively small and suggest that the evaluation metrics are relatively robust. Finally, we consider the implications of our results for a global earthquake forecast experimen

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