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Seismic Tomography of the Southern California Plate Boundary Region from Noise-Based Rayleigh and Love Waves


We use cross-correlations of ambient seismic noise between pairs of 158 broadband and short-period sensors to investigate velocity structure over the top 5–10 km of the crust in the Southern California plate boundary region around the San Jacinto Fault Zone (SJFZ). From the 9-component correlation tensors associated with all station pairs we derive dispersion curves of Rayleigh and Love wave group velocities. The dispersion results are inverted first for Rayleigh and Love waves group velocity maps on a 1.5 × 1.5 km2 grid that includes portions of the SJFZ, the San Andreas Fault (SAF), and the Elsinore fault. We then invert these maps to 3D shear wave velocities in the top ~7 km of the crust. The distributions of the Rayleigh and Love group velocities exhibit 2θ azimuthal anisotropy with fast directions parallel to the main faults and rotations in complex areas. The reconstructed 3D shear velocity model reveals complex shallow structures correlated with the main geological units, and strong velocity contrasts across various fault sections along with low-velocity damage zones and basins. The SJFZ is marked by a clear velocity contrast with higher V s values on the NE block for the section SE of the San Jacinto basin and a reversed contrast across the section between the San Jacinto basin and the SAF. Velocity contrasts are also observed along the southern parts on the SAF and the Elsinore fault, with a faster southwest block in both cases. The region around the Salton Trough is associated with a significant low-velocity zone. Strong velocity reductions following flower-shape with depth are observed extensively around both the SJFZ and the SAF, and are especially prominent in areas of geometrical complexity. In particular, the area between the SJFZ and the SAF is associated with an extensive low-velocity zone correlated with diffuse seismicity at depth, and a similar pattern including correlation with deep diffuse seismicity is observed on a smaller scale in the trifurcation area of the SJFZ. These results augment local earthquake tomography images that have low resolution in the top few km of the crust, and provide important constraints for studies concerned with behavior of earthquake ruptures, generation of rock damage, and seismic shaking hazard in the region.

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The data used in this work were recorded mostly by the Southern California Seismic Network operated by Caltech and USGS. We also used data recorded near the SJFZ by a temporary NSF-CD deployment operated by the University of California, San Diego, and data recorded by the University of California, Santa Barbara. We thank Amir Allam, Gregor Hillers, Nikolai Shapiro, Laurent Stehly, and Frank Vernon for useful discussions. We also thank Martha Savage, an anonymous referee, and Editor Antonio Rovelli for constructive comments. The study was supported by the National Science Foundation (grant EAR-0908903). MC and PR acknowledge support from the European Research Council (advanced grant 227507 “Whisper”).

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Supplementary material 1 (A) Raw data for January 3, 2009, with an earthquake. (B) Same data after clipping at 4 std. (C) Same data after pre-processing using the sub-segment method (Poli et al, 2012) (JPEG 1270 kb)


Supplementary material 2 (A) Cross-correlation between PLM and KNW stations obtained for January 3, 2009 after clipping at 4 std (red trace). The blue trace corresponds to the same pair but for a reference day (January 8, 2009) chosen for it’s good and clean noise. (B) Same as (A) but with the Poli et al, (2012) pre-processing method applies (see the data on Figure S1C) (JPEG 1257 kb)


Supplementary material 3 Shear wave velocity model based on Rayleigh waves. The V s model based on Rayleigh waves is provided in a text file named “Vs_Rayleigh.dat”. Each row is a cell of the model having 4 columns with the information: depth (km), longitude (deg), latitude (deg), and shear wave velocity (km/s). “NaN” in the V s column denotes a cell with no value (DAT 12,085 kb)


Supplementary material 4 Shear wave velocity model based on Love waves: The V s model based on Love waves is provided in a text file named ‘Vs_Love.dat’. The entries are the same as in ‘Vs_Rayleigh.dat’ (DAT 12,107 kb)

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Zigone, D., Ben-Zion, Y., Campillo, M. et al. Seismic Tomography of the Southern California Plate Boundary Region from Noise-Based Rayleigh and Love Waves. Pure Appl. Geophys. 172, 1007–1032 (2015).

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