Abstract

We present analysis of a magnitude 3.5 event which occurred at 9 km epicentral distance from a digital strong motion instrument operated by the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research. Although the size of this isolated event is such that it can scarcely be considered to be a significant earthquake, a careful analysis of this high quality recording does yield several interesting results: 1) the S-wave spectra can be interpreted in terms of a simple omega-squared source spectrum and frequency-independent attenuation, 2) there is the suggestion of a poorly-resolved resonance in the P-wave spectrum, and perhaps most importantly, 3) the apparently simple S-wave spectra can be fit almost equally well with a surprisingly wide range of seismic corner frequencies, from roughly 5 to 25 Hz. This uncertainty in corner frequency translates into uncertainties in inferred Q values of almost an order of magnitude, and into uncertainties in stress drop of two orders of magnitude. Given the high quality of the data and the short epicentral distance to the station, we consider it likely that resolution of spectral decay and corner frequency will be at least as poor for any other recording of earthquakes with comparable or smaller magnitudes.

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