Traveltime measurements from noise correlation: stability and detection of instrumental time-shifts

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SUMMARY

We test the feasibility of using Green's functions extracted from records of ambient seismic noise to monitor temporal changes in the Earth crust properties by repeated measurements at regional distances. We use about 11 yr of continuous recordings to extract surface waves between three pairs of stations in California. The correlations are computed in a moving 1-month window and we analyse the temporal evolution of measured interstation traveltimes. The comparison of the arrival times in the positive and negative correlation time of Rayleigh and Love waves allows us to separate time-shifts associated with any form of physical change in the medium, those resulting from clock drift or other instrumental errors, and those due to change in the localization of the noise sources. This separation is based on the principle of time symmetry. When possible, we perform our analysis in two different period bands: 5–10 and 10–20 s. The results indicate that significant instrumental time errors (0.5 s) are present in the data. These time-shifts can be measured and tested by closure relation and finally corrected independently of any velocity model. The traveltime series show a periodic oscillation that we interpret as the signature of the seasonal variation of the region of origin of the seismic noise. Between 1999 and 2005, the final arrival time fluctuations have a variance of the order of 0.01 s. This allows us to measure interstation traveltimes with errors smaller than 0.3 per cent of the interstation traveltime and smaller than 1 per cent of the used wave period. This level of accuracy was not sufficient to detect clear physical variation of crustal velocity during the considered 11 yr between the three stations in California. Such changes may be more easily detectable when considering pairs of stations more closely located to each other and in the vicinity of tectonically active faults or volcanoes.

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