Tracking Paths of Ocean Source Ambient Seismic Noise into, and through, the 3D Earth

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Anya Marie Reading1, Martin Gal1, Peter Edward Morse1, Keith D Koper2, Mark A Hemer3, Nicholas Rawlinson4, Michelle Salmon5, Marthijn De Kool6 and Brian L N Kennett4, (1)University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, Australia, (2)University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, United States, (3)CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric, Hobart, Australia, (4)Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, (5)Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia, (6)Geoscience Australia, Canberra, Australia
Array measurements of seismic noise (microseisms) are emerging as independent observables that inform our knowledge of ocean storms. Using an improved implementation of IAS Capon analysis, we can infer the location and amplitude of multiple sources of seismic noise over multiple decades. For the Southern Ocean, we can use seismic records to assist in identifying shifting patterns of ocean storms. Thus we can investigate topics such as the disparity between wave height trends identified using calibrated satellite records, which appear to be in increasing over multiple decades, and wave heights measured directly using a wave-rider buoy, which does not show a significant change over the same time frame. The passage of wave energy from the water column to the solid Earth, and through the 3D Earth to the seismic array must be tracked effectively.

In this contribution, we focus on understanding the passage of seismic noise through the 3D Earth. In particular, we investigate path deviations from 1D Earth models for body waves sources from a variety of locations in the Southern Ocean recorded at Australian seismic arrays. We also investigate path deviations of surface waves travelling across the Australian continent, using the AusREM Earth model. We also appraise other factors affecting the interpretation of slowness, backazimuth and amplitude from seismic array records. These include the effect of the bathymetry-related transfer function controlling energy entering the solid Earth from the water column and the impact of local geology at the site of the seismic array. For a season of storms in the southern hemisphere winter, we simulate the path of energy from a representative range of locations to Australia seismic arrays. We employ a wavefront tracking technique, fast marching, that can support heterogeneous structure and the consideration of multiple arrivals.

We find that storms in some locations are subject to a much larger deviation from the expected path of energy through a 1D Earth. We also find that, given the extended source characteristics of ocean storms, focusing and defocusing effects have a significant impact on the pattern of seismic noise observed at a given array. The interplay between these multiple factors results in 'sweet spots': locations in the ocean where storms are very well observed for a particular array.