Seismic Magnitudes, Corner Frequencies and Microseismicity: Using Ambient Noise to Correct for High-Frequency Attenuation

Antony C Butcher, RIchard Luckett, J M Kendall, Brian Baptie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Over recent years, a greater importance has been attached to low‐magnitude events, with increasing use of the subsurface for industrial activities such as hydraulic fracturing and enhanced geothermal schemes. Magnitude distributions and earthquake source properties are critical inputs when managing the associated seismic risk of these activities, yet inconsistencies and discrepancies are commonly observed with microseismic activity (⁠M<2⁠). This, in part, is due to their impulse response being controlled by the medium, as opposed to the source. Here, an approach for estimating the high‐frequency amplitude decay parameter from the spectral decay of ambient seismic noise (⁠κ0_noise⁠) is developed. The estimate does not require a pre‐existing seismic catalog and is independent of the source properties, so avoids some of the main limitations of earthquake‐based methods. We then incorporate κ0_noise into the Brune (1970) source model and calculate source properties and magnitude relationships for coal‐mining‐related microseismic events, recorded near New Ollerton, United Kingdom. This generates rupture radii ranging approximately between 10 and 100 m, which agrees with the findings of Verdon et al. (2018), and results in stress‐drop values between 0.1 and 10 MPa. Calculating these properties without κ0_noise produces much higher rupture radii of between 100 and 500 m and significantly lower stress drops (⁠∼1×10−2MPa⁠). Finally, we find that the combined κ0‐Brune model parameterized with these source property estimates accurately capture the ML–Mw relationship at New Ollerton, and that stress drop heavily influences the gradient of this relationship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1260-1275
JournalBulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Issue number3
Early online date28 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2020


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