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Nonlinear attenuation of S-waves and Love waves within ambient rock

Norman H. Sleep, & Brittany A. Erickson

Published April 2014, SCEC Contribution #1935

We obtain scaling relationships for nonlinear attenuation of S-waves and Love waves within sedimentary basins to assist numerical modeling. These relationships constrain the past peak ground velocity (PGV) of strong 3–4 s Love waves from San Andreas events within Greater Los Angeles, as well as the maximum PGV of future waves that can propagate without strong nonlinear attenuation. During each event, the shaking episode cracks the stiff, shallow rock. Over multiple events, this repeated damage in the upper few hundred meters leads to self-organization of the shear modulus. Dynamic strain is PGV divided by phase velocity, and dynamic stress is strain times the shear modulus. The frictional yield stress is proportional to depth times the effective coefficient of friction. At the eventual quasi-steady self-organized state, the shear modulus increases linearly with depth allowing inference of past typical PGV where rock over the damaged depth range barely reaches frictional failure. Still greater future PGV would cause frictional failure throughout the damaged zone, nonlinearly attenuating the wave. Assuming self-organization has taken place, estimated maximum past PGV within Greater Los Angeles Basins is 0.4–2.6 m s-1. The upper part of this range includes regions of accumulating sediments with low S-wave velocity that may have not yet compacted, rather than having been damaged by strong shaking. Published numerical models indicate that strong Love waves from the San Andreas Fault pass through Whittier Narrows. Within this corridor, deep drawdown of the water table from its currently shallow and preindustrial levels would nearly double PGV of Love waves reaching Downtown Los Angeles.

Sleep, N. H., & Erickson, B. A. (2014). Nonlinear attenuation of S-waves and Love waves within ambient rock. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 15(4), 1419–1440. doi: 10.1002/2014GC005250.