Rotational Ground Motion Measurements for Regional Seismic Moment Tensors: a Review

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. This is version 1 of this Preprint.


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Stefanie Donner 


Seismic moment tensors are an important tool in geosciences on all spatial scales and for a broad range of applications. The basic underlying theory is established since decades.
However, various factors influence the reliability of the inversion result, several of them are mutually dependent. Hence, a reliable retrieval of seismic moment tensors is still hampered in many cases, especially at regional event-receiver distances.

To sample the entire wavefield due to a seismic source we need six components: three translational and three rotational ones. Up to now, only translational ground motion recordings were used for moment tensor retrieval, missing out valuable information.

Using rotational in addition to the classical translational ground motions during waveform inversion for moment tensors mainly adds information on the vertical displacement gradient to the inversion problem. Furthermore, having available six instead of only three components per receiver location provides additional constraints on the sampling of the radiation pattern.

As a result, the moment tensor components are resolved with higher precision and accuracy, even when the number of recording receivers is considerably reduced. Especially, components with a dependence to depth as well as the centroid depth can benefit significantly from additional rotational ground motion.

Up to the time of writing this review only a few studies are published on the topic. Here, I summarise their findings and provide an overview over the possible capabilities of including rotational ground motion measurements to waveform inversion for seismic moment tensor retrieval.



Physical Sciences and Mathematics


waveform inversion, rotational seismology, seismic moment tensor


Published: 2021-06-18 09:33


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:

Data Availability (Reason not available):
This is a review. No data or code was used.

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