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The First Detection of an Earthquake From a Balloon Using Its Acoustic Signature

Brissaud, Quentin and Krishnamoorthy, Siddharth and Jackson, Jennifer M. and Bowman, Daniel C. and Komjathy, Attila and Cutts, James A. and Zhan, Zhongwen and Pauken, Michael T. and Izraelevitz, Jacob S. and Walsh, Gerald J. (2021) The First Detection of an Earthquake From a Balloon Using Its Acoustic Signature. Geophysical Research Letters, 48 (12). Art. No. e2021GL093013. ISSN 0094-8276. doi:10.1029/2021gl093013.

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Extreme temperature and pressure conditions on the surface of Venus present formidable technological challenges against performing ground-based seismology. Efficient coupling between the Venusian atmosphere and the solid planet theoretically allows the study of seismically generated acoustic waves using balloons in the upper atmosphere, where conditions are far more clement. However, earthquake detection from a balloon has never been demonstrated. We present the first detection of an earthquake from a balloon-borne microbarometer near Ridgecrest, CA in July 2019 and include a detailed analysis of the dependence of seismic infrasound, as measured from a balloon on earthquake source parameters, topography, and crustal and atmospheric structure. Our comprehensive analysis of seismo-acoustic phenomenology demonstrates that seismic activity is detectable from a high-altitude platform on Earth, and that Rayleigh wave-induced infrasound can be used to constrain subsurface velocities, paving the way for the detection and characterization of such signals on Venus.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Brissaud, Quentin0000-0001-8189-4699
Krishnamoorthy, Siddharth0000-0002-0379-1616
Jackson, Jennifer M.0000-0002-8256-6336
Bowman, Daniel C.0000-0002-9341-520X
Komjathy, Attila0000-0002-5975-438X
Cutts, James A.0000-0002-1765-8322
Zhan, Zhongwen0000-0002-5586-2607
Pauken, Michael T.0000-0002-3993-675X
Additional Information:© 2021. Jet Propulsion Laboratory. California Institute of Technology. Government sponsorship acknowledged. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made. Issue Online: 21 June 2021; Version of Record online: 21 June 2021; Accepted manuscript online: 20 May 2021; Manuscript accepted: 23 April 2021; Manuscript revised: 20 April 2021; Manuscript received: 16 February 2021. The authors acknowledge financial support from the Strategic Research and Technology Development and the Instantaneous and Spontaneous Concept grants at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Support from the NASA Planetary Science and Technology through Analog Research (PSTAR) program is also gratefully acknowledged. In addition, the authors would like to thank Noah Yared, Christine Yuan, Kyle Weng, Michael Lally, Luan Nguen, David Komjathy, Adam Komjathy, and Katalin Komjathy for their assistance in constructing Heliotrope envelopes. They thank Kirk Barrow and Chris Yahnker (JPL) for their help in recovering the balloons. Crescenta Valley High School in La Crescenta, CA is gratefully acknowledged for providing space for Heliotrope construction. The authors would like to thank Zachary Ross, Yan Yang, and Zhe Jia (Seismological Laboratory, California Institute of Technology) for insightful discussions regarding earthquake catalogs and the interpretation of regional seismic data. They also thank the W.M. Keck Institute for Space Studies for their early support of the balloon-based seismology project. Finally, they would like to thank the two reviewers for their detailed comments and suggestions for the manuscript. Part of this research was performed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology with support from internal research and development grants, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory managed and operated by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International, Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration under Contract No. DENA0003525. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Government, the United States Department of Energy, or Sandia National Laboratories. Data Availability Statement: Data Availability Seismic waveform data and earthquake catalogs were accessed through the Southern California Earthquake Data Center (SCEDC, at Caltech (Southern California Earthquake Center, 2013). The community velocity models are obtained through the UCVM software framework maintained by Southern California Earthquake Center (Small et al., 2017). Balloon microbarometer and simulation data are available on a publicly accessible FigShare repository with
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-NA0003525
JPL Research and Technology Development FundUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:balloon; geophysics; infrasound; seismology; Venus
Issue or Number:12
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210527-154947306
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Brissaud, Q., Krishnamoorthy, S., Jackson, J. M., Bowman, D. C., Komjathy, A., Cutts, J. A., et al. (2021). The first detection of an earthquake from a balloon using its acoustic signature. Geophysical Research Letters, 48, e2021GL093013.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:109287
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:27 May 2021 23:09
Last Modified:23 Jun 2021 19:17

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