Abstract

Small‐magnitude earthquakes shed light on the spatial and magnitude distribution of natural seismicity, as well as its rate and occurrence, especially in stable continental regions where natural seismicity remains difficult to explain under slow strain‐rate conditions. However, capturing them in catalogs is strongly hindered by signal‐to‐noise ratio issues, resulting in high rates of false and man‐made events also being detected. Accurate and robust discrimination of these events is critical for optimally detecting small earthquakes. This requires uncovering recurrent salient features that can rapidly distinguish first false events from real events, then earthquakes from man‐made events (mainly quarry blasts), despite high signal variability and noise content. In this study, we combined the complementary strengths of human and interpretable rule‐based machine‐learning algorithms for solving this classification problem. We used human expert knowledge to co‐create two reliable machine‐learning classifiers through human‐assisted selection of classification features and review of events with uncertain classifier predictions. The two classifiers are integrated into the SeisComP3 operational monitoring system. The first one discards false events from the set of events obtained with a low short‐term average/long‐term average threshold; the second one labels the remaining events as either earthquakes or quarry blasts. When run in an operational setting, the first classifier correctly detected more than 99% of false events and just over 93% of earthquakes; the second classifier correctly labeled 95% of quarry blasts and 96% of earthquakes. After a manual review of the second classifier low‐confidence outputs, the final catalog contained fewer than 2% of misclassified events. These results confirm that machine learning strengthens the quality of earthquake catalogs and that the performance of machine‐learning classifiers can be improved through human expertise. Our study promotes a broader implication of hybrid intelligence monitoring within seismological observatories.

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