Rayleigh waves from underground nuclear explosions are used to estimate scalar moments for 40 Nevada Test Site (NTS) explosions and 18 explosions at the Soviet East Kazakh test site. The Rayleigh wave spectrum is written as a product of functions that depend on the elastic structure of the travel path, the elastic structure of the source region, and the Q structure of the path. We use our results to examine the world-wide variability of each factor and the resulting variability of surface wave amplitudes. The path elastic structure and Q structure are found by inversion of Rayleigh wave phase and group velocities and spectral amplitudes. The Green's function derived from this structure is used to estimate the moments of explosions observed along the same path.

This procedure produces more consistent amplitude estimates than conventional magnitude measurements. Network scatter in log moment is typically 0.1. In contrast with time domain amplitudes, the elastic structure of the travel path causes little variability in spectral amplitudes. When the mantle Q is constrained to a value of approximately 100 at depths greater than 120 km, the inversion for Q and moment produces moments that remain constant with distance. Based on the best models available, surface waves from NTS explosions should be larger than surface waves from East Kazakh explosions with the same moment. Estimated scalar moments for the largest East Kazakh explosions since 1976 are smaller than the estimated moments for the largest NTS explosions for the same time period. This contrasts dramatically with mb values for the same events which show the opposite behavior.

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