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The effectiveness of a distant accelerometer array to compute seismic source parameters: the April 2009 L'Aquila earthquake case history

Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 101, 1, pp.354-365, 2011, doi: 10.1875/0120100124
N. Maercklin, A. Zollo, A. Orefice, G. Festa, A. Emolo, R. De Matteis,B. Delouis, and A. Bobbio


The MW = 6.3 L’Aquila earthquake, central Italy, on April 6, 2009 has been recorded by the Irpinia Seismic Network (ISNet) about 250 km south-east of the epicenter. Up to 19 three-component accelerometer stations could be used to infer the main source parameters with different seismological methods. We obtained an approximate location of the event from arrival times and array-based backazimuth measurements and estimated the local magnitude (6.1) from an attenuation relation for southern Italy. Assuming an omega-square spectral model we inverted S-wave displacement spectra for moment magnitude (6.3), corner frequency (0.33 Hz), stress drop (2.5 MPa) and apparent stress (1.6 MPa). Waveform modeling using a point source and an extended source model provided consistent moment tensors with a centroid depth around 6 km and a prevalently normal fault plane solution with a dominant directivity toward south-east. The relatively high corner frequency and an overestimated moment magnitude of 6.4 from moment tensor inversions are attributed to the rupture directivity effect. To image the rupture geometry we implemented a beamforming technique that back-projects the recorded direct P-wave amplitudes into the earthquake source region. A NW-SE striking rupture of 17 km length is imaged, propagating with an average velocity up to 3 km/s. This value is significantly higher than our estimate of 2.2 km/s from S-wave spectra. Our case study demonstrates that the use of array techniques and a dense accelerometer network can provide quick and robust estimates of source parameters of moderate-size earthquakes located outside the network.
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