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2019
Carvajal, M, Araya-Cornejo C, Sepulveda I, Melnick D, Haase JS.  2019.  Nearly instantaneous tsunamis following the Mw 7.5 2018 Palu earthquake. Geophysical Research Letters. 46:5117-5126.   10.1029/2019gl082578   AbstractWebsite

The tsunami observations produced by the 2018 magnitude 7.5 Palu strike-slip earthquake challenged the traditional basis underlying tsunami hazard assessments and early warning systems. We analyzed an extraordinary collection of 38 amateur and closed circuit television videos to show that the Palu tsunamis devastated widely separated coastal areas around Palu Bay within a few minutes after the mainshock and included wave periods shorter than 100 s missed by the local tide station. Although rupture models based on teleseismic and geodetic data predict up to 5-m tsunami runups, they cannot explain the higher surveyed runups nor the tsunami waveforms reconstructed from video footage, suggesting either these underestimate actual seafloor deformation and/or that non-tectonic sources were involved. Post-tsunami coastline surveys combined with video evidence and modeled tsunami travel times suggest that submarine landslides contributed to tsunami generation. The video-based observations have broad implications for tsunami hazard assessments, early warning systems, and risk-reduction planning. Plain Laguage Summary Tsunami hazard assessment is routinely based on assessing the impacts of long-period waves generated by vertical seafloor motions reaching the coast tens of minutes after the earthquake in typical subduction-zone environments. This view is inadequate for assessing hazard associated with strike-slip earthquakes such as the magnitude 7.5 2018 Palu earthquake, which resulted in tsunami effects much larger than would normally be associated with horizontal fault motion. From an extraordinary collection of 38 amateur and closed circuit television videos we estimated tsunami arrival times, amplitudes, and wave periods at different locations around Palu Bay, where the most damaging waves were reported. We found that the Palu tsunamis devastated widely separated coastal areas within a few minutes after the mainshock and included unusually short wave periods, which cannot be explained by the earthquake fault slip alone. Post-tsunami surveys show changes in the coastline, and this combined with video footage provides potential locations of submarine landslides as tsunami sources that would match the arrival times of the waves. Our results emphasize the importance of estimating tsunami hazards along coastlines bordering strike-slip fault systems and have broad implications for considering shorter-period nearly instantaneous tsunamis in hazard mitigation and tsunami early warning systems.

2018
Constable, S, Kowalczyk P, Bloomer S.  2018.  Measuring marine self-potential using an autonomous underwater vehicle. Geophysical Journal International. 215:49-60.   10.1093/gji/ggy263   AbstractWebsite

The marine self-potential (SP) method is used to explore for hydrothermal venting and associated seafloor mineralization. Measurements are commonly made in deep water using instruments towed close to the seafloor, which requires dedicated ship time, is limited to slow speeds, and is subject to navigation errors. Instead, we mounted a three-axis electric field receiver on an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), and tested the method with data collected in the Iheya area of the Okinawa Trough, off Japan. Parts of this prospect have documented hydrothermal venting and seafloor massive sulfide (SMS) deposits. An International Submarine Engineering Limited explorer-class AUV was fitted with a controlled-source electromagnetic (CSEM) amplifier and logging system, modified to collect DC SP data using silver chloride electrodes on approximately 1 m dipoles. A 1 km x 1 km area was surveyed with a flight pattern of six lines, collected three times to assess repeatability and noise levels. The entire data set was collected in a single day on station with a 10 hr AUV deployment. Flying height was 70 m, navigation errors were less than 3 m, collection speed was 1.1 m s(-1) and electric field noise levels were less than 5 mu V m(-1). Localized anomalies of 0.3 mV m(-1) were observed, from which potentials were estimated using regularized inversion, yielding negative SP anomalies of 15-25 mV. Modelling electric field data as dipoles shows that the negative poles causing the anomalies are localized near the seafloor with a diffuse return current deeper than 1000 m below seafloor. Apparent conductivities as high as 30 S m(-1) were derived from CSEM data collected during the same deployment, which strongly suggests that SMS mineralization is associated with one of the SP anomalies, although the localization near the seafloor and the lack of a dipolar signal suggest that the causative mechanism for the SP anomalies is due to hydrothermal venting. In either case, we have demonstrated that AUV-mounted instrument systems are an efficient, effective and low noise means of collecting marine SP data.

2016
Constable, S, Kannberg PK, Weitemeyer K.  2016.  Vulcan: A deep-towed CSEM receiver. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 17:1042-1064.   10.1002/2015gc006174   AbstractWebsite

We have developed a three-axis electric field receiver designed to be towed behind a marine electromagnetic transmitter for the purpose of mapping the electrical resistivity in the upper 1000 m of seafloor geology. By careful adjustment of buoyancy and the use of real-time monitoring of depth and altitude, we are able to deep-tow multiple receivers on arrays up to 1200 m long within 50 m of the seafloor, thereby obtaining good coupling to geology. The rigid body of the receiver is designed to reduce noise associated with lateral motion of flexible antennas during towing, and allows the measurement of the vertical electric field component, which modeling shows to be particularly sensitive to near-seafloor resistivity variations. The positions and orientations of the receivers are continuously measured, and realistic estimates of positioning errors can be used to build an error model for the data. During a test in the San Diego Trough, offshore California, inversions of the data were able to fit amplitude and phase of horizontal electric fields at three frequencies on three receivers to about 1% in amplitude and 1 degrees in phase and vertical fields to about 5% in amplitude and 5 degrees in phase. The geological target of the tests was a known cold seep and methane vent in 1000 m water depth, which inversions show to be associated with a 1 km wide resistor at a depth between 50 and 150 m below seafloor. Given the high resistivity (30 m) and position within the gas hydrate stability field, we interpret this to be massive methane hydrate.

2015
Wheelock, B, Constable S, Key K.  2015.  The advantages of logarithmically scaled data for electromagnetic inversion. Geophysical Journal International. 201:1765-1780.   10.1093/gji/ggv107   AbstractWebsite

Non-linear inversion algorithms traverse a data misfit space over multiple iterations of trial models in search of either a global minimum or some target misfit contour. The success of the algorithm in reaching that objective depends upon the smoothness and predictability of the misfit space. For any given observation, there is no absolute form a datum must take, and therefore no absolute definition for the misfit space; in fact, there are many alternatives. However, not all misfit spaces are equal in terms of promoting the success of inversion. In this work, we appraise three common forms that complex data take in electromagnetic geophysical methods: real and imaginary components, a power of amplitude and phase, and logarithmic amplitude and phase. We find that the optimal form is logarithmic amplitude and phase. Single-parameter misfit curves of log-amplitude and phase data for both magnetotelluric and controlled-source electromagnetic methods are the smoothest of the three data forms and do not exhibit flattening at low model resistivities. Synthetic, multiparameter, 2-D inversions illustrate that log-amplitude and phase is the most robust data form, converging to the target misfit contour in the fewest steps regardless of starting model and the amount of noise added to the data; inversions using the other two data forms run slower or fail under various starting models and proportions of noise. It is observed that inversion with log-amplitude and phase data is nearly two times faster in converging to a solution than with other data types. We also assess the statistical consequences of transforming data in the ways discussed in this paper. With the exception of real and imaginary components, which are assumed to be Gaussian, all other data types do not produce an expected mean-squared misfit value of 1.00 at the true model (a common assumption) as the errors in the complex data become large. We recommend that real and imaginary data with errors larger than 10 per cent of the complex amplitude be withheld from a log-amplitude and phase inversion rather than retaining them with large error-bars.

2013
Constable, S.  2013.  Review paper: Instrumentation for marine magnetotelluric and controlled source electromagnetic sounding. Geophysical Prospecting. 61:505-532.   10.1111/j.1365-2478.2012.01117.x   AbstractWebsite

We review and describe the electromagnetic transmitters and receivers used to carry out magnetotelluric and controlled source soundings in the marine environment. Academic studies using marine electromagnetic methods started in the 1970s but during the last decade these methods have been used extensively by the offshore hydrocarbon exploration industry. The principal sensors (magnetometers and non-polarizing electrodes) are similar to those used on land but magnetotelluric field strengths are not only much smaller on the deep sea-floor but also fall off more rapidly with increasing frequency. As a result, magnetotelluric signals approach the noise floor of electric field and induction coil sensors (0.1 nV/m and 0.1 pT) at around 1 Hz in typical continental shelf environments. Fluxgate magnetometers have higher noise than induction coils at periods shorter than 500 s but can still be used to collect sea-floor magnetotelluric data down to 40-100 s. Controlled source transmitters using electric dipoles can be towed continuously through the seawater or on the sea-bed, achieving output currents of 1000 A or more, limited by the conductivity of seawater and the power that can be transmitted down the cables used to tow the devices behind a ship. The maximum source-receiver separation achieved in controlled source soundings depends on both the transmitter dipole moment and on the receiver noise floor and is typically around 10 km in continental shelf exploration environments. The position of both receivers and transmitters needs to be navigated using either long baseline or short baseline acoustic ranging, while sea-floor receivers need additional measurements of orientations from compasses and tiltmeters. All equipment has to be packaged to accommodate the high pressure (up to 40 MPa) and corrosive properties of seawater. Usually receiver instruments are self-contained, battery powered and have highly accurate clocks for timekeeping, even when towed on the sea-floor or in the water column behind a transmitter.

1996
Constable, S, Cox CS.  1996.  Marine controlled-source electromagnetic sounding .2. The PEGASUS experiment. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 101:5519-5530.   10.1029/95jb03738   AbstractWebsite

The marine controlled-source electromagnetic sounding method developed over the past 15 years at Scripps Institution of Oceanography employs a towed seafloor electric dipole transmitter of moment 4 x 10(4) Am and multiple free-vehicle seafloor electric field recorders. A survey of 40 Ma normal oceanic lithosphere in the northeast Pacific using frequencies of 0.25 to 24 Hz and synchronous stacking of 0.25- to 12-hour-duration detected signals at transmitter-receiver ranges between 5 and 95 km. One-dimensional electrical conductivity structure is recovered from the data using the Occam process of nonlinear regularized inversion. Repeated inversion of a model terminated with an essentially infinite conductor or resistor demonstrates that the maximum depth of inference for this experiment is about 30 km, well into the upper mantle, with bounds placed on conductivity to depths of 60 km. Structure shallower than about 1 km is comparable to that obtained by a similar experiment on the East Pacific Rise and by borehole logging, with a sharp increase in resistivity at depths of 600-800 m, although strictly our experiment is sensitive only to integrated square root of conductivity, or total attenuation, in the surface layers. The lower crust and upper mantle has a resistivity between 2 and 7 x 10(4) Omega m and a transverse resistance of at least 10(9) Omega m(2), suggesting at most 0.3% volume fraction of free water in the lower crust and some form of conductivity enhancement over mineral conductivity in the uppermost mantle. Although resolution is weak, below 30 km our data are compatible with a dry olvine model of mantle conductivity-temperature.