Point spread functions for earthquake source imaging: An interpretation based on seismic interferometry

Hisashi Nakahara, Matthew M. Haney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Recently, various methods have been proposed and applied for earthquake source imaging, and theoretical relationships among the methods have been studied. In this study, we make a follow-up theoretical study to better understand the meanings of earthquake source imaging. For imaging problems, the point spread function (PSF) is used to describe the degree of blurring and degradation in an obtained image of a target object as a response of an imaging system. In this study, we formulate PSFs for earthquake source imaging. By calculating the PSFs, we find that waveform source inversion methods remove the effect of the PSF and are free from artefacts. However, the other source imaging methods are affected by the PSF and suffer from the effect of blurring and degradation due to the restricted distribution of receivers. Consequently, careful treatment of the effect is necessary when using the source imaging methods other than waveform inversions. Moreover, the PSF for source imaging is found to have a link with seismic interferometry with the help of the source-receiver reciprocity of Green's functions. In particular, the PSF can be related to Green's function for cases in which receivers are distributed so as to completely surround the sources. Furthermore, the PSF acts as a low-pass filter. Given these considerations, the PSF is quite useful for understanding the physical meaning of earthquake source imaging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-61
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jul 1


  • Earthquake source observations
  • Image processing
  • Interferometry
  • Theoretical seismology


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