Seismic moment tensors from synthetic rotational and translational ground motion: Green's functions in 1-D versus 3-D




Hejrani, Babak
Tkalčić, Hrvoje
Donner, Stefanie
Mustac, M.
Igel, Heiner

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Oxford University Press


Seismic moment tensors are an important tool and input variable for many studies in the geosciences. The theory behind the determination of moment tensors is well established. They are routinely and (semi-) automatically calculated on a global scale. However, on regional and local scales, there are still several difficulties hampering the reliable retrieval of the full seismic moment tensor. In an earlier study, we showed that the waveform inversion for seismic moment tensors can benefit significantly when incorporating rotational ground motion in addition to the commonly used translational ground motion. In this study, we test, what is the best processing strategy with respect to the resolvability of the seismic moment tensor components: inverting three-component data with Green’s functions (GFs) based on a 3-D structural model, six-component data with GFs based on a 1-D model, or unleashing the full force of six-component data and GFs based on a 3-D model? As a reference case, we use the inversion based on three-component data and 1-D structure, which has been the most common practice in waveform inversion for moment tensors so far. Building on the same Bayesian approach as in our previous study, we invert synthetic waveforms for two test cases from the Korean Peninsula: one is the 2013 nuclear test of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the other is an Mw  5.4 tectonic event of 2016 in the Republic of Korea using waveform data recorded on stations in Korea, China and Japan. For the Korean Peninsula, a very detailed 3-D velocity model is available. We show that for the tectonic event both, the 3-D structural model and the rotational ground motion, contribute strongly to the improved resolution of the seismic moment tensor. The higher the frequencies used for inversion, the higher is the influence of rotational ground motions. This is an important effect to consider when inverting waveforms from smaller magnitude events. The explosive source benefits more from the 3-D structural model than from the rotational ground motion. Nevertheless, the rotational ground motion can help to better constraint the isotropic part of the source in the higher frequency range.



Waveform inversion, Earthquake source observations, Rotational seismology



Geophysical Journal International


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Open Access

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Creative Commons Attribution licence



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