In an ongoing effort to improve 3D seismic‐wave propagation modeling for frequencies up to 10 Hz, we used cross correlations between vertical‐component waveforms from an underground chemical explosion to estimate the statistical properties of small‐scale velocity heterogeneities. The waveforms were recorded by a dense 2D seismic array deployed during the Source Physics Experiments for event number 5 (SPE‐5) in a series of six underground chemical explosions, conducted at the Nevada National Security Site. The array consisted of 996 geophones with a 50–100 m grid spacing, deployed at the SPE site at the north end of the Yucca Flat basin. The SPE were conducted to investigate the generation and propagation of seismic and acoustic waves from underground explosions.

Comparisons of decay rates of waveform cross correlations as function of interstation distance, computed for observed and synthetic seismograms from the SPE‐5 chemical explosion, were used to constrain statistical properties of correlated stochastic velocity perturbations representing small‐scale heterogeneities added to a geology‐based velocity model of the Yucca Flat basin. Using comparisons between recorded and simulated waveform cross correlations, we were able to recover sets of statistical properties of small‐scale velocity perturbations in the velocity model that produce the best‐fit between the recorded and simulated ground motion. The stochastic velocity fluctuations in the velocity model that produced the smallest misfits have a horizontal correlation distance of between 400 and 800 m, a vertical correlation distance between 100 and 200 m, and a standard deviation of 10% from the nominal model velocity in the alluvium basin layers. They also have a horizontal correlation distance of 1000 m, a vertical correlation distance of 250 m, and a standard deviation of 6% in the underlying and consolidated sedimentary layers, up to a depth of 4 km.

Comparisons between observed and simulated wavefields were used to assess the proposed small‐scale heterogeneity enhancements to the Yucca Flat basin model. We found that adding a depth‐resolved stochastic variability to the geology‐based velocity model improves the overall performance of ground‐motion simulations of an SPE‐5 explosion in the modeled frequency range up to 10 Hz. The results may be applicable to other similar basins.

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