Teleseismic Body-Wave Attenuation beneath the Western and Central United States

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Bin Yang, Cory A Reed, Kelly Hong Liu and Stephen S Gao, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO, United States
Attenuation of seismic waves is the consequence of anelasticity of the Earth's layers along the path of propagation. Joint analyses of seismic velocity with attenuation anomalies can significantly reduce the non-uniqueness in the interpretation of velocity images and result in a better understanding of the Earth's interior structure, composition, and dynamics. Employing a Bayesian approach with a common spectrum simultaneous inversion for attenuation factors (Gao, 1997), we have processed over 14,000 teleseismic body-wave seismograms recorded by all publicly available broadband seismic stations in the western and central United States. Preliminary results show extensive low-attenuation areas beneath the central United States probably related to fragments of the ancient Farallon slab, while less pronounced regions of likely cold material underlie the Colorado Plateau. High-attenuation anomalies are discovered in association with the Snake River Plain and the Rio Grande Rift. We apply station-averaged parameters and P-S attenuation ratios and compare our findings with published shear-wave splitting results to examine the presence of partial melt and asthenospheric upwelling. Additionally, we examine the azimuthal variation of attenuation measurements to constrain the possible existence of attenuation anisotropy and attempt to constrain the source depth of anisotropy through tomographic methods.