Epicenter determinations using data from stations at distances greater than 20° from the source make use of standard travel times based on a spherically symmetrical Earth. Lateral inhomogeneities in the upper mantle result in relative delays with respect to the standard times. Delays associated with the end of the up-traveling ray can be handled through the use of station corrections. A constant delay beneath the source can not be easily corrected, but it will result only in errors in origin time. However, if the delay arising beneath the source changes with azimuth, a consistent error, here called source bias, will be present in the estimate of the epicenter. Studies of explosions within continental masses have revealed no significant source bias; however, events on two linear, volcanic island chains in the Pacific (Rat Islands-Aleutians and Hawaii) show significant source bias. Errors arising from this effect may be as large as 12 degree and are most likely to occur with events near tectonically active island chains.

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