Background seismic noise levels among the Caribbean network and the role of station proximity to coastline

Seismological Research Letters
By: , and 



The amplitude and frequency content of background seismic noise is highly variable with geographic location. Understanding the characteristics and behavior of background seismic noise as a function of location can inform approaches to improve network performance and in turn increase earthquake detection capabilities. Here, we calculate power spectral density estimates in one‐hour windows for over 15 yr of vertical‐component data from the nine‐station Caribbean network (CU) and look at background noise within the 0.05–300 s period range. We describe the most visually apparent features observed at the CU stations. One of the most prominent features occurs in the 0.75–3 s band for which power levels are systematically elevated and decay as a function of proximity to the coastline. Further examination of this band on 1679 contiguous USArray Transportable Array stations reveals the same relationship. Such a relationship with coastal distance is not observed in the 4–8 s range more typical of globally observed secondary microseisms. A simple surface‐wave amplitude decay model fits the observed decay well with geometric spreading as the most important factor for stations near the coast (<∼50 km). The model indicates that power levels are strongly influenced by proximity to coastline at 0.75–3 s. This may be because power from nearshore wave action at 0.75–3 s overwhelms more distant and spatially distributed secondary microseism generation. Application of this basic model indicates that a power reduction of ∼25 dB can be achieved by simply installing the seismometer 25 km away from the coastline. This finding may help to inform future site locations and array design thereby improving network performance and data quality, and subsequently earthquake detection capabilities.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Background seismic noise levels among the Caribbean network and the role of station proximity to coastline
Series title Seismological Research Letters
DOI 10.1785/0220230215
Edition Online First
Year Published 2024
Language English
Publisher Seismological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Geologic Hazards Science Center - Seismology / Geomagnetism
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details