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Waveform backprojection is a key technique of earthquake-source imaging, which has been widely used for extracting information of earthquake source evolution that cannot be obtained by kinematic source inversion. The technique enjoys considerable popularity, owing to the simplicity of its implementation and the robustness of its processing, but the physical meaning of backprojection images has remained elusive. In this study, we reviewed the mathematical representation of backprojection (BP) and hybrid backprojection (HBP) methods, following the pioneering work of Fukahata et al. (Geophys. J. Int. (2014) 196, 552–559), to clarify the physical implications of BP images. We found that signal intensity in BP and HBP images is scaled with the amplitude of the Green's function that corresponds to a unit-step slip, which results in the signal intensity being depth dependent. We propose variants of BP and HBP, which we call kinematic BP and HBP, respectively, to relate the BP signal intensity to slip motion of an earthquake by modifying the normalizing factors used in the original BP and HBP methods. The original BP and HBP images remain useful for assessing the spatiotemporal strength of the wave radiation, which scales with the amplitude of the Green's function, whereas the kinematic BP and HBP methods are suitable for imaging the slip motion that is responsible for the high-frequency radiation produced during the source-rupture process.
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