Common Observations for Near-Source Ground Motions and Seismo-Traveling Ionosphere Disturbances Following the 2011 off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku Earthquake, Japan


The time history and spatial dependence of seismic-wave propagation on the ground surface and through the ionosphere following the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake were reconstructed from dense seismic networks and from Global Positioning System (GPS) array observations, respectively. Using total electron content (TEC) data recorded by a dense GPS receiver network, the near-source ionosphere perturbations induced by this giant earthquake were analyzed and high-resolution images of seismic-wave propagation in the ionosphere are presented. Similar spatial images of ground motions were reconstructed from observations by a dense seismic array. Observations of this event provide, for the first time, the opportunity to compare near-source ground motions with the near-field seismo-traveling ionosphere disturbance (STID) excited by the ground motions. Based on the results, the nature of the source rupture and seismic-wave propagation are discussed. Both seismic and ionosphere observations indicate that seismic energy propagated radially outward initially from the hypocenter, but that the circular shape of the propagation front became gradually distorted as the source rupture became extended. Coherent wavefronts from the two analyses show contrasting patterns during the later stage of propagation, possibly due to different patterns of spatial variations in the physical properties of the solid earth and of the ionosphere.

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