Wave-equation Based Earthquake Location

Monday, 15 December 2014: 10:50 AM
Ping Tong1, Dinghui Yang2, Xu Yang3, Jingrun Chen3 and Jerry Harris1, (1)Stanford University, Stanford, CA, United States, (2)Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, (3)University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States
Precisely locating earthquakes is fundamentally important for studying earthquake physics, fault orientations and Earth's deformation. In industry, accurately determining hypocenters of microseismic events triggered in the course of a hydraulic fracturing treatment can help improve the production of oil and gas from unconventional reservoirs.

We develop a novel earthquake location method based on solving full wave equations to accurately locate earthquakes (including microseismic earthquakes) in complex and heterogeneous structures. Traveltime residuals or differential traveltime measurements with the waveform cross-correlation technique are iteratively inverted to obtain the locations of earthquakes. The inversion process involves the computation of the Fréchet derivative with respect to the source (earthquake) location via the interaction between a forward wavefield emitting from the source to the receiver and an adjoint wavefield reversely propagating from the receiver to the source. When there is a source perturbation, the Fréchet derivative not only measures the influence of source location but also the effects of heterogeneity, anisotropy and attenuation of the subsurface structure on the arrival of seismic wave at the receiver. This is essential for the accuracy of earthquake location in complex media. In addition, to reduce the computational cost, we can first assume that seismic wave only propagates in a vertical plane passing through the source and the receiver. The forward wavefield, adjoint wavefield and Fréchet derivative with respect to the source location are all computed in a 2D vertical plane. By transferring the Fréchet derivative along the horizontal direction of the 2D plane into the ones along Latitude and Longitude coordinates or local 3D Cartesian coordinates, the source location can be updated in a 3D geometry. The earthquake location obtained with this combined 2D-3D approach can then be used as the initial location for a true 3D wave-equation earthquake location method. It is expected that this newly developed method can accurately obtain the origin time and hypocenter location of an earthquake (e.g., microseismic earthquake) in a complex structure. Moreover, the approach is suitable for estimating velocity structure as well as event location.