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Shallow seismic source parameter determination using intermediate-period surface wave amplitude spectra


  • This article Shallow seismic source parameter determination using intermediate-period surface wave amplitude spectra was written by Benjamin D. Fox, Neil D. Selby and Ross Heyburn of AWE Blacknest. It is published with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.


Estimating reliable depths for shallow seismic sources is important in both seismo-tectonic studies and in seismic discrimination studies. Surface wave excitation is sensitive to source depth, especially at intermediate and short-periods, owing to the approximate exponential decay of surface wave displacements with depth. A new method is presented here to retrieve earthquake source parameters from regional and teleseismic intermediate period (100–15 s) fundamental-mode surface wave recordings. This method makes use of advances in mapping global dispersion to allow higher frequency surface wave recordings at regional and teleseismic distances to be used with more confidence than in previous studies and hence improve the resolution of depth estimates. Synthetic amplitude spectra are generated using surface wave theory combined with a great circle path approximation, and a grid of double–couple sources are compared with the data. Source parameters producing the best-fitting amplitude spectra are identified by minimizing the least-squares misfit in logarithmic amplitude space. The F-test is used to search the solution space for statistically acceptable parameters and the ranges of these variables are used to place constraints on the best-fitting source. Estimates of focal mechanism, depth and scalar seismic moment are determined for 20 small to moderate sized (4.3 ≤Mw≤ 6.4) earthquakes. These earthquakes are situated across a wide range of geographic and tectonic locations and describe a range of faulting styles over the depth range 4–29 km. For the larger earthquakes, comparisons with other studies are favourable, however existing source determination procedures, such as the CMT technique, cannot be performed for the smaller events. By reducing the magnitude threshold at which robust source parameters can be determined, the accuracy, especially at shallow depths, of seismo-tectonic studies, seismic hazard assessments, and seismic discrimination investigations can be improved by the application of this methodology.