Articles | Volume 7, issue 5
Research article
21 Oct 2016
Research article |  | 21 Oct 2016

Improved finite-source inversion through joint measurements of rotational and translational ground motions: a numerical study

Michael Reinwald, Moritz Bernauer, Heiner Igel, and Stefanie Donner

Abstract. With the prospects of seismic equipment being able to measure rotational ground motions in a wide frequency and amplitude range in the near future, we engage in the question of how this type of ground motion observation can be used to solve the seismic source inverse problem. In this paper, we focus on the question of whether finite-source inversion can benefit from additional observations of rotational motion. Keeping the overall number of traces constant, we compare observations from a surface seismic network with 44 three-component translational sensors (classic seismometers) with those obtained with 22 six-component sensors (with additional three-component rotational motions). Synthetic seismograms are calculated for known finite-source properties. The corresponding inverse problem is posed in a probabilistic way using the Shannon information content to measure how the observations constrain the seismic source properties. We minimize the influence of the source receiver geometry around the fault by statistically analyzing six-component inversions with a random distribution of receivers. Since our previous results are achieved with a regular spacing of the receivers, we try to answer the question of whether the results are dependent on the spatial distribution of the receivers. The results show that with the six-component subnetworks, kinematic source inversions for source properties (such as rupture velocity, rise time, and slip amplitudes) are not only equally successful (even that would be beneficial because of the substantially reduced logistics installing half the sensors) but also statistically inversions for some source properties are almost always improved. This can be attributed to the fact that the (in particular vertical) gradient information is contained in the additional motion components. We compare these effects for strike-slip and normal-faulting type sources and confirm that the increase in inversion quality for kinematic source parameters is even higher for the normal fault. This indicates that the inversion benefits from the additional information provided by the horizontal rotation rates, i.e., information about the vertical displacement gradient.

Short summary
The goal of this study is to test the effect of incorporating rotational ground motion data into finite-source inversions for different types of earthquakes. We run numerical simulations with and without rotation data and directly compare the results. They clearly suggest that seismological studies can benefit from the ability of seismometers to also measure rotational ground motions, especially for faults which also fracture in vertical direction.