The effect of local geology and noise conditions on the performance of a small regional array is investigated by comparing the regional Pn backazimuth estimation capabilities of the ARCESS array in northern Norway to the NORESS array. A broadband frequency-wavenumber estimator was used to calculate backazimuths from the Pn arrival for each of 203 regional events recorded at ARCESS while varying element spacing, frequency band, and time window. Most of the errors in backazimuth are less than 20° when appropriate parameter combinations are used, and mean backazimuth errors are close to zero. The best results are obtained using a 13-element configuration that has a 1.4 km aperture and a maximum station spacing of about 600 m. With the 13-element configuration and the data filtered to include frequencies between 3 and 10 Hz, the mean errors for the 203 event data set are less than 0.9°, and S.D. are as small as 16.9°. There are differences seen in the backazimuth estimation capabilities of ARCESS and NORESS with specific parameter combinations. The larger aperture configurations (10- and 17-elements) have smaller means at ARCESS, although the precision is about the same. The estimates using unfiltered data at ARCESS are poor, because of local noise conditions that increase the level of background noise at low frequencies. Overall the precision is better at NORESS, but both regional arrays have the best results using the 13-element configuration and filtering the data in the middle frequency range (3 to 10 Hz). Other factors investigated include SNR and source region. Backazimuth estimation statistics improve if only events with 5 dB of SNR are included in the data set at both ARCESS and NORESS. The mean errors move closer to zero and standard deviations decrease. The differences between the two arrays are not as pronounced. There are some path effects from different source regions around the ARCESS array. However, combinations of small aperture configurations and middle (3 to 10 Hz) frequency bands work well for events over the entire distance range of 30 to 1200 km. ARCESS and NORESS have similar backazimuth estimation capabilities even though there are differences in the local geology and noise conditions. Because a 13-element configuration produces reliable results for both arrays, it would be reasonable to reduce the number of elements in a regional array. This in turn will reduce the costs associated with building and deploying small regional arrays.

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