The availability of digital seismic waveform data enabled compilation of seismic moment tensor catalogs that provide information about earthquake source processes beyond what could be derived from earlier methods that assume double‐couple sources representing slip on planar faults. This additional versatility involves additional complexity. Moment tensors are determined by inversions minimizing the misfit between observed and synthetic waveforms, and depend on the specifics of the data inverted, the inversion algorithm, and the Earth structure assumed. Hence, substantial uncertainties arise in moment tensors and quantities derived from them, which can be assessed by comparing moment tensors from multiple global and regional catalogs using different data and inversion procedures. While the double‐couple (DC) components of moment tensors are generally determined with greater certainty, non‐double‐couple (NDC) components for the same earthquake sometimes differ significantly between catalogs. This observation raises questions about the reliability of their determination and hence their geological significance. Using the correlation between NDC components in different catalogs, we quantify the reliability of NDC components in moment tensor catalogs through the determination of the effects of unmodeled and inaccurately modeled effects contained in them. We determine that the NDC components in the Global Centroid Moment Tensor catalog are, on average, more precise than in other catalogs, and thus studies on NDC components should be based on this catalog. Furthermore, their uncertainties are largely unrelated to uncertainties in the DC components. Therefore, the reliability of fault angles derived from a moment tensor is largely independent from the reliability of its NDC components.

You do not have access to this content, please speak to your institutional administrator if you feel you should have access.