Abstract

Very accurate timing of seismic recordings is critical for modern processing techniques. Clock synchronization among the instruments constituting an array is, however, difficult without direct communication between them. Synchronization to Global Positioning System (GPS) time is one option for on‐land deployments, but not for underwater surveys as electromagnetic signals do not propagate efficiently in water. If clock drift is linear, time corrections for ocean‐bottom seismometer (OBS) deployments can be estimated through GPS synchronization before and after the deployment, but this is not sufficient for many applications as the nonlinear component of the drift can reach tens to hundreds of milliseconds for long‐duration experiments. We present two techniques to retrieve timing differences between simultaneous recordings at ocean‐bottom instruments after deployment has ended. Both techniques are based on the analysis of the cross correlation of ambient seismic noise and are effective even if clock drift is nonlinear. The first, called time symmetry analysis, is easy to apply but requires a proper illumination so that the noise cross‐correlation functions are symmetric in time. The second is based on the doublet analysis method and does not have this restriction. Advantages and drawbacks of both approaches are discussed. Application to two OBS data sets shows that both can achieve synchronization of recordings down to about five milliseconds (a few percent of the main period used).

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