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Apparent non-double-couple components as artifacts of moment tensor inversion

April 4, 2024

Compilations of earthquake moment tensors from global and regional catalogs find pervasive non-double-couple (NDC) components with a mean deviation from a double-couple (DC) source of around 20%. Their distributions vary only slightly with magnitude, faulting mechanism, or geologic environments. This consistency suggests that for most earthquakes, especially smaller ones whose rupture processes are expected to be simpler, the NDC components are largely artifacts of the moment tensor inversion procedure. This possibility is also supported by the fact that NDC components for individual earthquakes with Mw<6.5 are only weakly correlated between catalogs. We explore this possibility by generating synthetic seismograms for the double-couple components of earthquakes around the world using one Earth model and inverting them with a different Earth model. To match the waveforms with a different Earth model, the inversion changes the mechanisms to include a substantial NDC component while largely preserving the fault geometry (DC component). The resulting NDC components have a size and distribution similar to those reported for the earthquakes in the Global Centroid Moment Tensor (GCMT) catalog. The fact that numerical experiments replicate general features of the pervasive NDC components reported in moment tensor catalogs implies that these components are largely artifacts of the inversions not adequately accounting for the effects of laterally varying Earth structure.

Publication Year 2024
Title Apparent non-double-couple components as artifacts of moment tensor inversion
DOI 10.26443/seismica.v3i1.1157
Authors Boris Rösler, Seth Stein, Adam T. Ringler, Jiří Vackár
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Seismica
Index ID 70252803
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geologic Hazards Science Center - Seismology / Geomagnetism