Coherence of seismic body waves from local events as measured by a small-aperture array Academic Article uri icon


  • Eight local earthquakes were recorded during the operation of a small-aperture seismic array at Pinyon Flat, California. The site was chosen for its homogeneous granitic geology and its planar topography. Amplitude spectral ratios for the same signal measured at different stations had average values of less than 2 and maximum values of 7. Magnitude-squared coherences were estimated for all station pairs. These estimates were highest for the P wave arrivals on the vertical component and lowest for the P wave recorded on the transverse component. At 500 m station separation the P and S waves were incoherent above 15 Hz and 10 Hz, respectively. Coherence for both the P and S waves decrease as frequency increases and as distance increases. The coherence of signals from borehole sensors located at 300 and 150 m depth displays higher average coherence than equally spaced sites located on the surface. The results here suggest that even for sites that appear to be very similar, that is, those which are located on a planar surface within a few meters of granite bedrock, the measured seismic wavefield can be distorted substantially over scale lengths of 500 m. Coherence properties were calculated from synthetic seismograms which were computed for velocity models with exponential and self similar distribution perturbations. Standard deviations of 10% are not sufficient for the random velocity distributions to approximate the results from the small-aperture array.

publication date

  • July 10, 1991