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Title: Earth model-space exploration in Southern California: Influence of topography, geotechnical layer, and attenuation on wavefield accuracy
Accurately predicting the seismic wavefield is important for physics-based earthquake hazard studies and is dependent on an accurate source model, a good model of the subsurface geology, and the full physics of wave propagation. Here, we conduct numerical experiments to investigate the effect of different representations of the Southern California Earthquake Center and Harvard community velocity models on seismic waveform predictions in the vicinity of the San Andreas fault in Salton Trough. We test general preconceptions about the importance of topography, near-surface geotechnical layering, and anelastic attenuation up to a maximum frequency of 0.5 Hz. For the Southern California Earthquake Center model developed without topography, we implement 1D and linear model extensions that preserve the geologic structure and a pull-up approach that adapts the original model to topographic variations and distorts the subsurface. The Harvard model includes an elevation model, so we test the squashed topography representation, which flattens it. For both community models, we modify the top 350 m by partially applying the Ely geotechnical layer using a minimum shear wave velocity of 600 m/s and incorporate an Olsen attenuation model using a ratio of 0.05. We evaluate the resulting 24 model representations using the classical waveform misfit and five moderate-magnitude earthquakes. Only the inclusion of attenuation consistently improves the wavefield predictions. It becomes more impactful at higher frequencies, where it significantly improves the performance levels of the crude 1D and linear extension models close to that of the original version. The pull-up topography representation also enhances the waveform prediction ability of the original model. Squashing the topography of the elevation-referenced Harvard model produces better seismogram fits, suggesting that seismic imagers construct community tomographic models without topography to avoid issues related to missing model parameters near the free surface or discrepancies with a different elevation model. Although full implementation of the Ely geotechnical layer that would permit shear wave velocities as low as 90 m/s proves computationally expensive, our partial implementation provides slightly better results in some cases. Our results can serve as recommendations for implementing these community models for future validation or optimization studies.  more » « less
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Frontiers in Earth Science
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National Science Foundation
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