Unified Scaling Law for Earthquakes

Per Bak*, Kim Christensen, Leon Danon, Tim Scanlon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

449 Citations (Scopus)


We show that the distribution of waiting times between earthquakes occurring in California obeys a simple unified scaling law valid from tens of seconds to tens of years. The short time clustering, commonly referred to as aftershocks, is nothing but the short time limit of the general hierarchical properties of earthquakes. There is no unique operational way of distinguishing between main shocks and aftershocks. In the unified law, the Gutenberg-Richter b value, the exponent −1 of the Omori law for aftershocks, and the fractal dimension df of earthquakes appear as critical indices.
Original languageEnglish
Article number178501
Number of pages4
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number17
Early online date10 Apr 2002
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2002

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