New Zealand Statistical Association

NZSA 2009

Victoria University of Wellington

Lisa Woods

Victoria University of Wellington

A probabilistic method of tectonic stress estimation

Earthquakes are the result of tectonic stress, which builds up along faults and plate boundaries. There is no direct method capable of measuring tectonic stress within the earth’s lithosphere so we record earthquakes - an effect of the stress which we are able to observe. The stress inversion process that we discuss here uses earthquake observations to determine the compressive stresses acting within a region of the earth by applying a Bayesian approach, so we are using a probabilistic method of tectonic stress estimation.

Estimating tectonic stress has many useful applications such as the possible prediction of volcanic eruptions because even though most tectonic stress is the result of plate movement, volcanic systems can cause extra stress to build up in surrounding areas due to the movement of magma within the system (Twiss & Moores 2007).
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