Applicability of long-period microtremors in inferring subsurface structure is examined using measurements of microtremors in the northwestern part of the Kanto Plain in Japan. Short-term continuous measurements of long-period microtremors at both sediment and basement sites were taken. A spectral peak at a period of 4 to 5 sec is stable with time, while peaks at periods less than 2 sec are time variant, suggesting a variation of microtremor sources. However, it was found that the spectral ratio between vertical and horizontal microtremors (ellipticity) at each site is stable with time. Good agreement was found between ellipticities of microtremors at the sediment site and those computed for Rayleigh waves in which the structure of the sediments beneath the site was taken into account. We also found that the ellipticities of Rayleigh waves in earthquake ground motions were consistent with those of the microtremors. These comparisons provide strong evidence that long-period microtremors in the area studied consist mainly of Rayleigh waves. The ellipticity of microtremors was investigated by observing microtremors at temporary observation sites in the Kanto Plain where the sediment thickness varied from 0 to 1 km. The subsurface structures were deduced by trial-and-error fitting of observed ellipticities with theoretical ellipticities that were calculated assuming Rayleigh waves. These results show that ellipticity of long-period microtremors is effective for deducing structure from microtremor data at a single site.

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