Publications

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2015
Barbour, AJ, Agnew DC, Wyatt FK.  2015.  Coseismic strains on plate boundary observatory borehole strainmeters in Southern California. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. 105:431-444.   10.1785/0120140199   AbstractWebsite

Strainmeters can record offsets coincident with earthquakes, but how much these represent strain changes from elastic rebound, and how much they are contaminated by local effects, remains an open question. To study this, we use a probabilistic detection method to estimate coseismic offsets on nine borehole strainmeters (BSMs) operated by the Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) in southern California, from 34 earthquakes with a wide range of magnitudes and distances. In general, the offsets estimated for the BSM data differ substantially from the static strain predicted by elastic dislocation theory, which is well supported by other techniques, though 10% of the observed offsets agree well with theory. For one earthquake, the BSM offsets significantly disagree with collocated long-base laser strainmeter data. Comparisons with collocated seismic data provide strong evidence that the absolute errors between the observed and predicted strains scale with the level of seismic energy density but also that relative errors (normalized by the model size) do not. We conclude that apparent strain offsets are induced by seismic waves, occurring presumably because of irreversible deformation, whether in the rock or cementing materials close to the BSMs, or in the instruments themselves. Coseismic offsets seen in PBO BSM data should therefore be viewed with caution before being used as a measure of large-scale coseismic deformation.

2012
Barbour, AJ, Agnew DC.  2012.  Noise Levels on Plate Boundary Observatory Borehole Strainmeters in Southern California. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. 101:2453-2466.   10.1785/0120110062   AbstractWebsite

To establish noise levels for the borehole strainmeters of the Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO), we have analyzed data recorded by eight of these instruments, all in the Anza region of southern California. We determine time-varying power spectra for frequencies from 10(-3) to 10 Hz, using a new method that combines multitaper spectrum estimation, smoothing by local regression, and computation of cumulative distribution functions. From about 2 Hz to the Nyquist frequency of 10 Hz, the noise floor is set by instrument resolution; for frequencies between 0.1 Hz and 1 Hz, it is set by microseisms. The lowest noise level is between 0.01 and 0.1 Hz, with a rapid increase at lower frequencies. However, in most instruments this low-noise range also contains narrowband noise that appears to be caused by power supply fluctuations. We compare these results with noise spectra from other types of strainmeters, which suggest two conclusions: (1) they are in agreement with results for surficial, long-baseline instruments; and (2) other subsurface strainmeters have lower noise in the seismic band than the PBO instruments do.