Earthquake focal depth is an important parameter for rapidly determining probable damage caused by a large earthquake. In addition, it is significant both for discriminating between natural events and explosions and for discriminating between tsunamigenic and nontsunamigenic earthquakes. For the purpose of notifying emergency management and disaster relief organizations as well as issuing tsunami warnings, potential time delays in determining source parameters are particularly detrimental. We present a method for determining earthquake focal depth that is well suited for implementation in an automated system that utilizes the wealth of broadband teleseismic data that is now available in real time from the global seismograph networks. This method uses waveform shapes to determine focal depth and is demonstrated to be valid for events with magnitudes as low as approximately 5.5.

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