Both phased array techniques for single-component sensors and vectorial analysis of three-component recordings can provide estimates of the azimuth and slowness of seismic phases. However, a combination of these approaches provides a more powerful tool to estimate the propagation characteristics of different seismic phases at regional distances.
Conventional approaches to the analysis of three-component seismic records endeavor to exploit the apparent angles of propagation in horizontal and vertical planes as well as the polarization of the waves. The basic assumption is that for a given time window there is a dominant wavetype (e.g., a P wave) traveling in a particular direction arriving at the seismic station. By testing a range of characteristics of the three-component records, a set of rules can be established for classifying much of the seismogram in terms of wavetype and direction. It is, however, difficult to recognize SH waves in the presence of other wavetypes. Problems also arise when more than one signal (in either wavetype or direction) arrive in the same window. The stability and robustness of the classification scheme is much improved when records from an array of three-component sensors are combined.
For a set of three-component instruments forming part of a larger array, it is possible to estimate the slowness and azimuth of arrivals from the main array and then extract the relative proportions of the current P-, SV-, and SH-wave contributions to the seismogram. This form of wavetype decomposition depends on a model of near-surface propagation. A convenient choice for hard-rock sites is to include just the effect of the free surface, which generates a frequency-independent operation on the three-component seismograms and which is not very sensitive to surface velocities. This approach generates good estimates of the character of the S wavefield, because the phase distortion of SV induced by the free surface can be removed. The method has been successfully applied to regional seismograms recorded at the medium aperture Warramunga array in northern Australia, and the two small arrays NORESS and ARCESS in Norway, which were designed for studies of regional phases.
The new wavefield decomposition scheme provides results in which the relative proportions of P, SV, and SH waves as a function of time can be compared without the distortion imposed by free surface amplification. Such information can provide a useful adjunct to existing measures of signal character used in source discrimination.