Retrieval of amplitude and attenuation from ambient seismic noise: Synthetic data and practical considerations

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Ambient noise correlation has been used extensively to retrieve traveltimes of surface waves. However, studies of retrieving amplitude information and attenuation from ambient noise are limited. In this study, we develop methods and strategies to extract Rayleigh wave amplitude and attenuation from ambient noise correlation, based on theoretical derivation, numerical simulation, and practical considerations of real seismic data. The synthetic data included a numerical simulation of a highly anisotropic noise source and Earth-like temporally varying strength. Results from synthetic data validate that amplitudes and attenuations can indeed be extracted from noise correlations for a linear array. A temporal flattening procedure is effective in speeding up convergence while preserving relative amplitudes. The traditional one-bit normalization and other types of temporal normalization that are applied to each individual station separately are problematic in recovering attenuation and should be avoided. In this study, we propose an 'asynchronous' temporal flattening procedure for real data that does not require all stations to have data at the same time. Furthermore, we present the detailed procedure for amplitude retrieval from ambient noise. Tests on real data suggest attenuations extracted from our noise-based methods are comparable with those from earthquakes. Our study shows an exciting promise of retrieving amplitude and attenuation information from ambient noise correlations and suggests practical considerations for applications to real data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)544-559
Number of pages16
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • Computational seismology
  • Seismic attenuation
  • Seismic noise
  • Seismic tomography
  • Surface waves and free oscillations
  • Theoretical seismology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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