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  1. Mobile Earthquake Recorder in Marine Areas by Independent Divers (MERMAID) is a passively drifting oceanic diving float that transmits acoustic pressure records from global earthquakes within hours or days of their rupture. The onboard algorithm used for the detection and identification of signals from the hydrophone prioritizes the recovery of ∼1 Hz teleseismic P waves, which are useful for seismic imaging of Earth’s mantle. Two years into a mission that launched 50 MERMAIDs to map 3D mantle wavespeed anomalies with high resolution under the Pacific in French Polynesia, it is clear that the data returned contain much information beyond the first-arriving seismic P phases. These include acoustic conversions from S waves, surface waves, T waves, and inner- and outer-core phases, generated by earthquakes heard across the globe—and sounds from otherwise unidentified events occurring in remote and uninstrumented parts of the world’s oceans. Our growing database of automatically accumulating ∼ 240 s long-triggered segments contains a treasure trove for geophysicists interested in seismology beyond P-wave tomography. Furthermore, equipped with two-way communication capabilities, MERMAID can entertain requests to deliver data from its 1 yr buffer. In this article, we highlight the data classes and categories in MERMAID’s “extended-utility” catalog.
  2. SUMMARY A fleet of autonomously drifting profiling floats equipped with hydrophones, known by their acronym mermaid, monitors worldwide seismic activity from inside the oceans. The instruments are programmed to detect and transmit acoustic pressure conversions from teleseismic P wave arrivals for use in mantle tomography. Reporting seismograms in near-real time, within hours or days after they were recorded, the instruments are not usually recovered, but if and when they are, their memory buffers can be read out. We present a unique 1-yr-long data set of sound recorded at frequencies between 0.1 and 20 Hz in the South Pacific around French Polynesia by a mermaid float that was, in fact, recovered. Using time-domain, frequency-domain and time-frequency-domain techniques to comb through the time-series, we identified signals from 213 global earthquakes known to published catalogues, with magnitudes 4.6–8.0, and at epicentral distances between 24° and 168°. The observed signals contain seismoacoustic conversions of compressional and shear waves travelling through crust, mantle and core, including P, S, Pdif, Sdif, PKIKP, SKIKS, surface waves and hydroacoustic T phases. Only 10 earthquake records had been automatically reported by the instrument—the others were deemed low-priority by the onboard processing algorithm. After removing all seismic signals from the record,more »and also those from other transient, dominantly non-seismic, sources, we are left with the infrasonic ambient noise field recorded at 1500 m depth. We relate the temporally varying noise spectral density to a time-resolved ocean-wave model, WAVEWATCH III. The noise record is extremely well explained, both in spectral shape and in temporal variability, by the interaction of oceanic surface gravity waves. These produce secondary microseisms at acoustic frequencies between 0.1 and 1 Hz according to the well-known frequency-doubling mechanism.« less
  3. SUMMARY We present the first 16 months of data returned from a mobile array of 16 freely floating diving instruments, named mermaid for Mobile Earthquake Recording in Marine Areas by Independent Divers, launched in French Polynesia in late 2018. Our 16 are a subset of the 50 mermaid deployed over a number of cruises in this vast and understudied oceanic province as part of the collaborative South Pacific Plume Imaging and Modeling (SPPIM) project, under the aegis of the international EarthScope-Oceans consortium. Our objective is the hydroacoustic recording, from within the oceanic water column, of the seismic wavefield generated by earthquakes worldwide, and the nearly real-time transmission by satellite of these data, collected above and in the periphery of the South Pacific Superswell. This region, characterized by anomalously elevated oceanic crust and myriad seamounts, is believed to be the surface expression of deeply rooted mantle upwellings. Tomographically imaging Earth’s mantle under the South Pacific with data from these novel instruments requires a careful examination of the earthquake-to-mermaid traveltimes of the high-frequency P-wave detections within the windows selected for reporting by the discrimination algorithms on board. We discuss a workflow suitable for a fast-growing mobile sensor database to pick the relevant arrivals,more »match them to known earthquakes in global earthquake catalogues, calculate their traveltime residuals with respect to global seismic reference models, characterize their quality and estimate their uncertainty. We detail seismicity rates as recorded by mermaid over 16 months, quantify the completeness of our catalogue and discuss magnitude–distance relations of detectability for our network. The projected lifespan of an individual mermaid is 5 yr, allowing us to estimate the final size of the data set that will be available for future study. To prove their utility for seismic tomography we compare mermaid data quality against ‘traditional’ land seismometers and their low-cost Raspberry Shake counterparts, using waveforms recovered from instrumented island stations in the geographic neighbourhood of our floats. Finally, we provide the first analyses of traveltime anomalies for the new ray paths sampling the mantle under the South Pacific.« less
  4. Much like medical doctors who use X-rays or acoustic waves to make three-dimensional images of our insides, geophysicists use the elastic wavefield generated by earth- quakes worldwide to scan the deep interior of our planet for subtle contrasts in the propagation speeds of seismic waves. To image the deep Earth using seismic tomography, over the years, seismologists have densely covered the continents with seismometers to measure ground motion. As with medical tomography, where sources and detectors are rotated all around to illuminate our bodies from all angles, achieving similarly evenly distributed geographical coverage for seismology requires making measurements all over the Earth surface, including the two-thirds that are covered by oceans. Yet, although some ocean islands do host geophysical observatories, gathering data over marine areas continues to present unique challenges.
  5. ABSTRACT We describe an algorithm to pick event onsets in noisy records, characterize their error distributions, and derive confidence intervals on their timing. Our method is based on an Akaike information criterion that identifies the partition of a time series into a noise and a signal segment that maximizes the signal-to-noise ratio. The distinctive feature of our approach lies in the timing uncertainty analysis, and in its application in the time domain and in the wavelet timescale domain. Our novel data are records collected by freely floating Mobile Earthquake Recording in Marine Areas by Independent Divers (MERMAID) instruments, midcolumn hydrophones that report triggered segments of ocean-acoustic time series.