The microtremor survey method (MSM) is used to estimate S-wave velocity profiles from microtremors or ambient noise. Although array-based MSM analyses are usually used for shallow exploration purposes because of their robustness, the extraction of numerous phase-velocity dispersion curves by two-station microtremor analysis is attractive because those dispersion curves can be used to construct high-resolution phase-velocity maps by solving a least-squares problem. However, in exploration studies (>1 Hz), the reliability of two-station microtremor analysis can be affected by short data acquisition times and heterogeneous noise distributions mainly caused by anthropogenic noises. In this study, we propose a new approach to estimate surface wave dispersion curves between station pairs considering a heterogeneous ambient noise distribution based on the spatial autocorrelation method. We first estimated azimuthal variations of noise energy from the complex coherencies between all station pairs in a receiver array, and then estimated dispersion curves between station pairs. Our field example demonstrates that modelling the azimuthal noise energy distribution allows us to use not only the real parts of complex coherencies, but also the imaginary parts, which are usually neglected when assuming a homogeneous noise field. The simultaneous use of the real and imaginary parts of complex coherencies improves the reliability and continuity of phase-velocity estimations between station pairs. Because the stability of phase-velocity estimations depends on the azimuths between station pairs, we carefully selected between-station azimuths that produce stable phase velocities. Selected phase velocities at 8 Hz can be used to construct high-resolution phase-velocity maps with least-squares inversion. Because our approach does not require a regular receiver interval for two-station analysis, it allows for more flexible seismic array geometries. This is particularly important for MSM analyses in urban areas, where limited space is available to install seismic stations. We conclude that our proposed approach is effective in reconstructing high-resolution shallow structures in heterogeneous ambient noise fields.
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