Seismic Attenuation of Teleseismic Body Waves in Cascadia, Measured on the Amphibious Array

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Zach Eilon, Lamont -Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, NY, United States and Geoffrey A Abers, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, United States
Fundamental questions remain about the nature of the asthenosphere, including its dynamical relationship to overlying lithosphere, melt content, and entrainment in subduction zones. We examine the evolution of this low-velocity, highly attenuating layer using data from the Cascadia Initiative’s Amphibious Array, which provides unprecedented coverage of an oceanic plate from ridge crest to trench to sub-arc. Our study extends the suite of measurements achievable with OBS data, augmenting traditional travel time analysis with integrated attenuation data that are a powerful tool for imaging melt/fluids and the variation of asthenospheric character with age.

Cooling models, coupled with experimentally-derived anelastic scaling relationships, indicate that thermal gradients should cause appreciable decrease in attenuation of teleseismic body waves with increasing age. This long-wavelength cooling trend may be perturbed by highly attenuating melt or volatiles concentrated at the ridge axis or beneath the Cascades arc, depending on melt fraction and pore geometry. Attenuation beyond the trench should be a strong function of the fate of asthenospheric entrainment beneath subducted plates, with implications for mass transfer to the deep mantle as well as recent models of sub-slab anisotropy.

The Amphibious Array, with <70 km spacing of OBS and on-land broadband seismometers deployed between 2011 and 2015, provides a dataset of ~1 x 105 arrivals from ~700 Mw>6.0 teleseismic earthquakes. We use a spectral ratio method to compute differential attenuation (Δt*) from body wave teleseisms recorded at OBS and land stations, allowing us to estimate path-integrated quality factor in the upper mantle. Preliminary results reveal variations of ~3 s in differential travel time and >0.5 s in ΔtS* across the 0-10 Ma oceanic plate, demonstrating the strong thermal control on anelasticity. Large values of Δt* observed east of the trench may indicate entrainment of highly attenuating asthenosphere during subduction, although more work is required to categorize and remove the signal of the overriding plate. This work complements previous studies using surface waves and contributes to our developing understanding of anelastic controls on seismic parameters by probing the Earth in a different frequency range.