Automatic seismic phase picking and consistent observation error assessment: Application to the Italian seismicity (2006)

Geophysical Journal International, 165, 121-134.

Di Stefano, R., Aldersons, F., Kissling, E., Baccheschi, P., Chiarabba, C., and Giardini, D.


Accuracy of seismic phase observation and consistency of timing error assessment define the quality of seismic waves arrival times. High-quality and large data sets are prerequisites for seismic tomography to enhance the resolution of crustal and upper mantle structures. In this paper we present the application of an automated picking system to some 600,000 seismograms of local earthquakes routinely recorded and archived by the Italian national seismic network. The system defines an observation weighting scheme calibrated with a hand-picked data subset and mimics the picking by an expert seismologist. The strength of this automatic picking is that once it is tuned for observation quality assessment, consistency of arrival times is strongly improved and errors are independent of the amount of data to be picked. The application to the Italian local seismicity documents that it is possible to automatically compile a precise, homogeneous and large data set of local earthquake Pg and Pn arrivals with related polarities. We demonstrate that such a data set is suitable for high-precision earthquake location, focal mechanism determination and high-resolution seismic tomography.


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