NOWCASTING EARTHQUAKES IN THE NORTHWEST HIMALAYA AND SURROUNDING REGIONS
With the rapid increase and availability of seismic data, an automatic, transparent and regular way of earthquake hazard estimation strategy is highly desirable in many seismically active large geographical regions. In this paper, we implement a novel method of nowcasting (Rundle et al., 2016) that can indirectly assess the current progression of a region through its earthquake cycle of large events. Nowcasting differs from the method of forecasting in which future earthquake probabilities are calculated. Using statistics of natural times, counts of small earthquakes between large earthquakes in a defined region, nowcasting provides an earthquake potential score (EPS) to enable scientists and city planners a snapshot of the current level of earthquake hazard in the region. Applied to a number of selected major cities in the northwest Himalaya and surrounding regions, we found that the EPS values corresponding to M ≥ 6 events in New Delhi, Chandigarh, Dehradun and Shimla reach about 0.56, 0.87, 0.85 and 0.88, respectively. These estimated scores thus indicate that New Delhi is about half-way through its cycle for magnitude 6.0 or higher earthquakes, while Dehradun is about 85 percent of the way through its cycle. Towards the end, we discuss some implications and applications of these nowcast values to improve the present earthquake hazard assessment practice in the study region.