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Rayleigh wave ellipticity measurement uncertainty across the IRIS/USGS and New China Digital Seismograph Networks

February 12, 2019

Long-period Rayleigh wave horizontal to vertical amplitude (H/V) ratios at a station provide information about local earth structure that is complementary to phase velocity. However, a number of studies have observed that significant scatter appears in these measurements making it difficult to use H/V ratio measurements to resolve earth structure. Some of the scatter in these measurements has been attributed to local geological structure while some has remained unaccounted for. Most Global Seismographic Network (GSN) stations contain two nearby high-quality broad-band seismometers (e.g. in the same vault, but on different piers or in different boreholes). For each broad-band sensor in the IRIS/USGS component of the GSN, we estimate H/V ratios of fundamental mode Rayleigh waves using M > 6.5 earthquakes from 2001 to 2018 (around 19 000 measurements). We compute these ratios at a number of discrete periods (25, 50, 75, 100 and 150 s) and find that for well-isolated Rayleigh waves (windows where the correlation coefficients between radial and the phase-shifted vertical components are greater than 0.9) significant scatter in H/V ratios occurs between colocated sensors (greater than 25 per cent at 100 s period). This suggests the scatter in H/V ratio measurements can be at least partially attributed to extremely local phenomena such as sensor emplacement in the vault. We also find that H/V ratios can vary as a function of event backazimuth, indicating that care must be taken when computing average ratios for a station, as a large number of events from a given region could bias H/V ratio measurements at a station.

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