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Journal Articles Geophysical Journal International Year : 2018

Imaging different components of a tectonic tremor sequence in southwestern Japan using an automatic statistical detection and location method

Natalia Poiata
Jean-Pierre Vilotte
Claudio Satriano
Kazushige Obara


In this study, we demonstrate the capability of an automatic network-based detection and location method to extract and analyse different components of tectonic tremor activity by analysing a 9-day energetic tectonic tremor sequence occurring at the downdip extension of the subducting slab in southwestern Japan. The applied method exploits the coherency of multiscale, frequency-selective characteristics of non-stationary signals recorded across the seismic network. Use of different characteristic functions, in the signal processing step of the method, allows to extract and locate the sources of short-duration impulsive signal transients associated with low-frequency earthquakes and of longer-duration energy transients during the tectonic tremor sequence. Frequency-dependent characteristic functions, based on higher-order statistics' properties of the seismic signals, are used for the detection and location of low-frequency earthquakes. This allows extracting a more complete (∼6.5 times more events) and time-resolved catalogue of low-frequency earthquakes than the routine catalogue provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency. As such, this catalogue allows resolving the space-time evolution of the low-frequency earthquakes activity in great detail, unravelling spatial and temporal clustering, modulation in response to tide, and different scales of space-time migration patterns. In the second part of the study, the detection and source location of longer-duration signal energy transients within the tectonic tremor sequence is performed using characteristic functions built from smoothed frequency-dependent energy envelopes. This leads to a catalogue of longer-duration energy sources during the tectonic tremor sequence, characterized by their durations and 3-D spatial likelihood maps of the energy-release source regions. The summary 3-D likelihood map for the 9-day tectonic tremor sequence, built from this catalogue, exhibits an along-strike spatial segmentation of the long-duration energy-release regions, matching the large-scale clustering features evidenced from the low-frequency earthquake's activity analysis. Further examination of the two catalogues showed that the extracted short-duration low-frequency earthquakes activity coincides in space, within about 10-15 km distance, with the longer-duration energy sources during the tectonic tremor sequence. This observation provides a potential constraint on the size of the longer-duration energy-radiating source region in relation with the clustering of low-frequency earthquakes activity during the analysed tectonic tremor sequence.

We show that advanced statistical network-based methods offer new capabilities for automatic high-resolution detection, location and monitoring of different scale-components of tectonic tremor activity, enriching existing slow earthquakes catalogues. Systematic application of such methods to large continuous data sets will allow imaging the slow transient seismic energy-release activity at higher resolution, and therefore, provide new insights into the underlying multiscale mechanisms of slow earthquakes generation.

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Dates and versions

insu-03589349 , version 1 (25-02-2022)





Natalia Poiata, Jean-Pierre Vilotte, Pascal Bernard, Claudio Satriano, Kazushige Obara. Imaging different components of a tectonic tremor sequence in southwestern Japan using an automatic statistical detection and location method. Geophysical Journal International, 2018, 213, pp.2193-2213. ⟨10.1093/gji/ggy070⟩. ⟨insu-03589349⟩
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