Journal of Seismology

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 1097–1113 | Cite as

Quantifying location uncertainties in seismicity catalogues: application to the Pyrenees

  • Antoine L. TurquetEmail author
  • Thomas Bodin
  • Pierre Arroucau
  • Matthieu Sylvander
  • Kevin Manchuel
Original Article


Linearised least-square inversions are commonly used to locate small-magnitude earthquakes, as they are fast and simple to implement. These methods are based on minimising the root-mean-square (RMS) of travel time residuals to find the best-fitting location coordinates and origin time. There are two well-known problems that affect location estimates: (1) the linearisation of the inverse problem causes dependence on the initial guess; (2) regularisation produces solutions that depend on the chosen damping coefficient and biased uncertainty estimates. In this work, we propose a method to quantify unbiased uncertainties with a series of synthetic tests. We first generate travel times for events from all possible coordinates on a 3D grid and then locate each synthetic event by using HYPOCENTER software (this can be applied to any location method). We show that the uncertainties estimated from the standard linearised inversion are strongly underestimated, and we propose another method to compute uncertainties. We produce a 3D error map, where at each grid point we plot the location error, defined as the distance between the event at the given grid point and its inverted location. Moreover, we show how this error map varies with the quantity and quality of the data, and with user-defined parameters such as maximum event–station distance or station corrections. We also provide a methodology to tune the seismic location parameters and calculate the corresponding uncertainties for users who are using similar earthquake location software. Finally, we present an application to the Pyrenean region.


Earthquake location Seismicity catalog Uncertainty quantification Velocity model 



The authors thank the editor and the reviewers for their precious comments to make the article more reader friendly. The authors would like to thank, for the fruitful discussions, Renaud Toussaint and Franois Renard. Furthermore, the authors would like to thank Thomas Theunissen for providing the seismicity dataset of the Pyrenean Region and his remarks on the project. We also thank Cedric Twardzik from Geoazur (Nice, France), Stephane Rondenay from University of Bergen, Knut Jorgen Maloy from PoreLab (Oslo, Norway), Sophie Lambotte from IPG (Strasbourg, France) and Francois Renard from ISTerre (Grenoble, France) for providing the opportunity for laboratory visits and discussions with their teams during the preparation of this manuscript.

Funding information

This project is financed by Electricity of France (EDF) via the project SINAPS@.

Supplementary material

10950_2019_9857_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.3 mb)
(PDF 1.34 MB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UCBL, CNRS, LGLTPEUniversité de LyonVilleurbanneFrance
  2. 2.EDF-Direction IndustrielleAix-en-ProvenceFrance
  3. 3.Observatoire Midi PyrénéesIRAP, CNRS UMR 5277, Universit Paul SabatierToulouseFrance
  4. 4.SFF PoreLab, Njord Centre, Department of PhysicsUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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