Seasonality in Particle Motion of Microseisms

Toshiro Tanimoto

Published July 2006, SCEC Contribution #900

Microseisms are a continuous source of seismic signal which mainly consist of Rayleigh waves but are known to contain some other types of seismic waves. We developed a simple processing procedure for single-station three-component seismic data which allows us to select Rayleigh-wave dominated portions. Application of this procedure to data from Southern California led us to confirm that excitation of the secondary-peak microseisms (the predominant energy at about 0.15 Hz) occurs in coastal regions; the source directions, viewed at each station, do not change very much throughout the year. We also discovered that the ratio of the horizontal to vertical amplitudes in Rayleigh waves, termed H/Z in this paper, is shown to have seasonal variations. The H/Z estimates typically reach their maximum in winter and their minimum in summer. Seasonal variations are observed at most stations but peak-to-peak amplitudes of seasonal variations vary greatly from station to station, ranging between 0 and 40 per cent. Two hypotheses were examined to explain this phenomenon; the first hypothesis is that it is caused by seasonal changes in seismic velocities in a layer between the surface and the groundwater level. The second hypothesis is that it is caused by seasonal changes in relative excitation of higher modes compared to dominant fundamental-mode Rayleigh waves. The first hypothesis is not likely, because predicted amplitudes of seasonal variations in H/Z are too small to explain observed variations. The second hypothesis seems quite plausible if source regions move seasonally among regions with different ocean depths. The technique developed in this paper, however, is not sufficient to answer this question conclusively.

Tanimoto, T. (2006). Seasonality in Particle Motion of Microseisms. Geophysical Journal International, 166(1), 253-266. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2006.02931.x.