Self-Organized Criticality in Earth Systems



Scale invariance and the associated “fractal” power law distributions may be regarded as a common thread connecting a wide variety of phenomena throughout the various disciplines of the Earth sciences. The empirical Gutenberg-Richter law, which states that the frequency-size relationship of earthquakes scales according to the same power law for all seismogenic regions, regardless of geological history and tectonic setting, is but one prominent example. The initial enthusiasm over the abundance and seemingly universal nature of scale invariance largely focused on the detection of new examples and the evermore detailed description of the various phenomena. Conversely concerted attempts to systematically explore the origins of these ubiquitous fractal scaling laws were few and far between.