Theses Doctoral

Improving Estimates of Seismic Source Parameters Using Surface-Wave Observations: Applications to Earthquakes and Underground Nuclear Explosions

Howe, Michael Joseph

We address questions related to the parameterization of two distinct types of seismic sources: earthquakes and underground nuclear explosions. For earthquakes, we focus on the improvement of location parameters, latitude and longitude, using relative measurements of spatial cluster of events. For underground nuclear explosions, we focus on the seismic source model, especially with regard to the generation of surface waves.
We develop a procedure to improve relative earthquake location estimates by fitting predicted differential travel times to those measured by cross-correlating Rayleigh- and Love-wave arrivals for multiple earthquakes recorded at common stations. Our procedure can be applied to populations of earthquakes with arbitrary source mechanisms because we mitigate the phase delay that results from surface-wave radiation patterns by making source corrections calculated from the source mechanism solutions published in the Global CMT Catalog. We demonstrate the effectiveness of this relocation procedure by first applying it to two suites of synthetic earthquakes. We then relocate real earthquakes in three separate regions: two ridge-transform systems and one subduction zone. In each scenario, relocated epicenters show a reduction in location uncertainty compared to initial single-event location estimates.
We apply the relocation procedure on a larger scale to the seismicity of the Eltanin Fault System which is comprised of three large transform faults: the Heezen transform, the Tharp transform, and the Hollister transform. We examine the localization of seismicity in each transform, the locations of earthquakes with atypical source mechanisms, and the spatial extent of seismic rupture and repeating earthquakes in each transform. We show that improved relative location estimates, aligned with bathymetry, greatly reduces the localization of seismicity on each of the three transforms. We also show how improved location estimates enhance the ability to use earthquake locations to address geophysical questions such as the presence of atypical earthquakes and the nature of seismic rupture along an oceanic transform fault.
We investigate the physical basis for the mb-MS discriminant, which relies on differences between amplitudes of body waves and surface waves. We analyze observations for 71 well-recorded underground nuclear tests that were conducted between 1977-1989 at the Balapan test site near Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan in the former Soviet Union. We combine revised mb values and earlier long-period surface-wave results with a new source model, which allows the vertical and horizontal forces of the explosive source to be different. We introduce a scaling factor between vertical and horizontal forces in the explosion model, to reconcile differences between body wave and surface wave observations. We find that this parameter is well correlated with the scaled depth of burial for UNEs at this test site. We use the modified source model to estimate the scaled depth of burial for the 71 UNEs considered in this study.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Ekström, Göran
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 9, 2019