Abstract

We invert far‐field infrasound data for the equivalent seismoacoustic time‐domain moment tensor to assess the effects of variable atmospheric models and source phenomena. The infrasound data were produced by a series of underground chemical explosions that were conducted during the Source Physics Experiment (SPE), which was originally designed to study seismoacoustic signal phenomena. The first goal of this work is to investigate the sensitivity of the inversion to the variability of the estimated atmospheric model. The second goal is to determine the relative contribution of two presumed source mechanisms to the observed infrasonic wavefield. Rather than using actual atmospheric observations to estimate the necessary atmospheric Green’s functions, we build a series of atmospheric models that rely on publicly available, regional‐scale atmospheric observations. The atmospheric observations are summarized and interpolated onto a 3D grid to produce a model of sound speed at the time of the experiment. For each of four SPE acoustic datasets that we invert, we produced a suite of three atmospheric models for each chemical explosion event, based on 10 yrs of meteorological data: an average model, which averages the atmospheric conditions for 10 yrs prior to each SPE event, as well as two extrema models. To parameterize the inversion, we assume that the source of infrasonic energy results from the linear combination of explosion‐induced surface spall and linear seismic‐to‐elastic mode conversion at the Earth’s free surface. We find that the inversion yields relatively repeatable results for the estimated spall source. Conversely, the estimated isotropic explosion source is highly variable. This suggests that 1) the majority of the observed acoustic energy is produced by the spall and/or 2) our modeling of the elastic energy, and the subsequent conversion to acoustic energy, is too simplistic.

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