Azimuthal anisotropy in Bayesian surface-wave tomography: application to northern Cascadia and Haida Gwaii


Surface wave tomography is a valuable tool for constraining azimuthal anisotropy at regional scales. However, sparse and uneven coverage of dispersion measurements make meaningful uncertainty estimation challenging, especially when applying subjective model regularization. This paper considers azimuthal anisotropy constrained by measurements of surface wave dispersion data within a Bayesian trans-dimensional (trans-d) tomographic inversion. A recently-proposed alternative model parameterization for trans-d inversion is implemented in order to produce more realistic models than previously previous studies considering trans-d surface wave tomography. The reversible-jump Markov-chain Monte Carlo sampling technique is used to numerically estimate the posterior probability density of the model parameters. Isotropic and azimuthally-anisotropic components of surface wave group velocity maps (and their associated uncertainties) are estimated while avoiding model regularization and allowing model complexity to be determined by the data information content. Furthermore, data errors are treated as unknown, and solved for, within the inversion. The inversion method is applied to measurements of surface wave dispersion from regional earthquakes recorded over northern Cascadia and Haida Gwaii, a region of complex active tectonics but highly heterogeneous station coverage. Results for isotropic group velocity are consistent with previous studies that considered the southern part of the study region over Cascadia. Azimuthal anisotropic fast-axis directions are generally margin-parallel between Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii, with a small change in direction and magnitude along the margin which may be attributed to the changing tectonic regime (from subduction to transform tectonics). Estimated errors on the dispersion data (solved for within the inversion) reveal a correlation between surface wave period and the dependence of data errors on travel path length. This paper demonstrates the value of considering azimuthal anisotropy within Bayesian tomographic inversions. Furthermore, this work provides structural context for future studies of tectonic structure and dynamics of northern Cascadia and Haida Gwaii, with the aim of improving our understanding of seismic and tsunami hazards.

Geophysical Journal International
Jeremy Gosselin
PhD Candidate

My research interests include Seismology, Inverse problems, and Tectonics.