Surface and underground seismic characterization at Terziet in Limburg-the Euregio Meuse-Rhine candidate site for Einstein Telescope

S. Koley*, M. Bader, J. van den Brand, X. Campman, H.J. Bulten, F. Linde, B. Vink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We present a detailed characterization of surface and underground seismic noise measured at Limburg in the south of the Netherlands. This location is the Euregio Meuse-Rhine candidate for hosting Einstein Telescope, a future observatory for gravitational waves. Seismic noise measurements were performed with an array of seismometers installed on the surface. Passive seismic methods like beamforming were used to extract the propagation wave types of ambient seismic noise and the Rayleigh-wave dispersion in the region. Subsurface shear-wave models sensitive to depths of 300 m were derived by using the Rayleigh-wave dispersion and ellipticity. Subsurface P-wave velocities to depths of 200 m were obtained from an active seismic survey. Wavepath Eikonal tomography was used on the source-receiver refracted-wave travel-times to obtain a subsurface P-wave velocity model. Both the passive and the active seismic data analysis point to the presence of a layered geology with a soft-soil to hard-rock transition occurring at a shallow depth of about 25 to 40 m. The surface arrays are complemented by two permanent tri-axial seismometers installed on the surface and in a borehole at 250 m depth. Their data are used to interpret the surface-wave and body-wave contributions to the observed seismic noise. We use a cross-correlation analysis and compute the theoretical surface-wave eigenfunctions to understand the contributions of the different wave types at different frequencies. We observe that below 4 Hz in the horizontal component and 9 Hz in the vertical component, the seismic noise at depth is dominantly due to surface waves. Above these frequencies a significant contribution can be attributed to both nearby and far-away body-wave sources. At a depth of 250 m we find that the surface noise power has been damped by up to a factor 10(4) above about 2 Hz. The Limburg geology with soft-soil on top of hard-rock efficiently damps the anthropogenic noise produced at the surface. This implies that Einstein Telescope's test masses are shielded from anthropogenic seismic noise and construction at greater depth will not bring significant further improvements in this regard. A body-wave background has been identified that contributes about half of the total underground seismic noise at 250 m depth for frequencies above 4 Hz. It remains to be studied if subtraction schemes for Newtonian noise originating from this body-wave background will be necessary. Finally, we estimate an interferometer downtime of about 3% due to regional and teleseismic earthquakes. We believe this is acceptable as it is comparable to current experience at the LIGO and Virgo interferometer sites.
Original languageEnglish
Article number025008
Number of pages33
JournalClassical and Quantum Gravity
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2022


  • ambient seismic noise
  • Einstein telescope
  • body wave background
  • underground seismic noise
  • Newtonian noise
  • AREA


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