Seismograms are convolution results between seismic sources and the media that seismic waves propagate through, and, therefore, the primary observations for studying seismic source parameters and the Earth interior. The routine earthquake location and travel-time tomography rely on accurate seismic phase picks (e.g., P and S arrivals). As data increase, reliable automated seismic phase-picking methods are needed to analyze data and provide timely earthquake information. However, most traditional auto-pickers suffer from low signal-to-noise ratio and usually require additional efforts to tune hyperparameters for each case. In this study, we proposed a deep-learning approach that adapted soft attention gates (AGs) and recurrent-residual convolution units (RRCUs) into the backbone U-Net for seismic phase picking. The attention mechanism was implemented to suppress responses from waveforms irrelevant to seismic phases, and the cooperating RRCUs further enhanced temporal connections of seismograms at multiple scales. We used numerous earthquake recordings in Taiwan with diverse focal mechanisms, wide depth, and magnitude distributions, to train and test our model. Setting the picking errors within 0.1 s and predicted probability over 0.5, the AG with recurrent-residual convolution unit (ARRU) phase picker achieved the F1 score of 98.62% for P arrivals and 95.16% for S arrivals, and picking rates were 96.72% for P waves and 90.07% for S waves. The ARRU phase picker also shown a great generalization capability, when handling unseen data. When applied the model trained with Taiwan data to the southern California data, the ARRU phase picker shown no cognitive downgrade. Comparing with manual picks, the arrival times determined by the ARRU phase picker shown a higher consistency, which had been evaluated by a set of repeating earthquakes. The arrival picks with less human error could benefit studies, such as earthquake location and seismic tomography.
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