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Sub‐Kilometer Correlation Between Near‐Surface Structure and Ground Motion Measured With Distributed Acoustic Sensing

Yang, Yan and Atterholt, James W. and Shen, Zhichao and Muir, Jack B. and Williams, Ethan F. and Zhan, Zhongwen (2022) Sub‐Kilometer Correlation Between Near‐Surface Structure and Ground Motion Measured With Distributed Acoustic Sensing. Geophysical Research Letters, 49 (1). Art. No. e2021GL096503. ISSN 0094-8276. doi:10.1029/2021gl096503.

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Earthquake ground motion depends strongly on near-surface structure, which is challenging to image in urban areas at high resolution. Distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) is an emerging technique that provides a scalable solution by converting preexisting fiber-optic cables into dense seismic arrays. After the July 2019 M7.1 Ridgecrest earthquake, we converted an underground dark fiber across the city of Ridgecrest, CA, into a DAS array. The recorded aftershocks show substantial lateral variability in site amplification over only 8-km in distance. To understand the cause of such variability, we used three months of continuous data, dominated by traffic-generated seismic noise, to image near-surface structure along the fiber path. We find that the lateral variations of earthquake shaking correlate well with the shallow shear velocity model at sub-kilometer scales, in particular micro-basins filled with soft sediments. These results highlight the great potential of DAS for high-resolution seismic hazard mapping in urban areas.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemEarthquake catalog ItemFault zone data
Yang, Yan0000-0002-6105-2918
Atterholt, James W.0000-0003-1603-5518
Shen, Zhichao0000-0003-0458-5264
Muir, Jack B.0000-0003-2617-3420
Williams, Ethan F.0000-0002-6471-4497
Zhan, Zhongwen0000-0002-5586-2607
Additional Information:© 2021. American Geophysical Union. Issue Online: 30 December 2021. Version of Record online: 30 December 2021. Accepted manuscript online: 20 December 2021. Manuscript accepted: 13 December 2021. Manuscript revised: 24 November 2021. Manuscript received: 06 October 2021. This research is supported by the USGS Earthquake Hazard Program, the NSF GMG Center at Caltech, and the Braun Trust. The authors thank Alan Yong and Domniki Asimaki for their helpful discussion on site amplification. Data Availability Statement. Data products necessary to reproduce the main results are publicly available ( Earthquake catalog in Figure 1 is downloaded from Fault zone data in Figure 1 are downloaded from (accessed August 1, 2019).
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Geomechanics and Mitigation of Geohazards CenterUNSPECIFIED
Carl F. Braun TrustUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220120-890594000
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Yang, Y., Atterholt, J. W., Shen, Z., Muir, J. B., Williams, E. F., & Zhan, Z. (2022). Sub-kilometer correlation between near-surface structure and ground motion measured with distributed acoustic sensing. Geophysical Research Letters, 49, e2021GL096503.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:113026
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:20 Jan 2022 23:15
Last Modified:20 Jan 2022 23:15

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