Recently, ring laser technology has provided the first consistent observations of rotational ground motions around a vertical axis induced by earthquakes. “Consistent,” in this context, implies that the observed waveforms and amplitudes are compatible with collocated recordings of translational ground motions. In particular, transverse accelerations should be in phase with rotation rate and their ratio proportional to local horizontal phase velocity assuming plane-wave propagation. The ring laser installed at the Fundamentalstation Wettzell in the Bavarian Forest, Southeast Germany, is recording the rotation rate around a vertical axis, theoretically a linear combination of the space derivatives of the horizontal components of motion. This suggests that, in principle, rotation can be derived from seismic-array experiments by “finite differencing.” This has been attempted previously in several studies; however, the accuracy of these observations could never be tested in the absence of direct measurements. We installed a double cross-shaped array of nine stations from December 2003 to March 2004 around the ring laser instrument and observed several large earthquakes on both the ring laser and the seismic array. Here we present for the first time a comparison of array-derived rotations with direct measurements of rotations for ground motions induced by the M 6.3 Al Hoceima, Morocco, earthquake of 24 February 2004. With complete 3D synthetic seismograms calculated for this event we show that even low levels of noise may considerably influence the accuracy of the array-derived rotations when the minimum number of required stations (three) is used. Nevertheless, when using all nine stations, the overall fit between direct and array-derived measurements is surprisingly good (maximum correlation coefficient of 0.94).

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