When an earthquake occurs, a key parameter in the emergency’s management is the knowledge of the most stressed areas by the ground motion. The focal mechanism is an essential source parameter for producing realistic shake maps. Although the approaches for estimating earthquake location and magnitude are now consolidated, automatic solutions for the focal mechanism are not always provided by the agencies or available at later times after inversion of waveforms for the determination of moment tensor components. We introduce a new approach for the automatic determination of the earthquake focal mechanism, using the spatial distribution of observed absolute initial P‐wave peak amplitudes, corrected for the geometrical attenuation effect, in an evolutionary, Bayesian framework. We applied the proposed methodology to the main earthquakes of the 2016–2017 central Italy seismic sequence finding that our rapid automatic estimates of the focal mechanism are in good agreement with those of the reference solutions.

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