Properties Of Seismic Fault Zone Waves And Their Utility For Imaging Low Velocity Structures

Yehuda Ben-Zion

Published 1998, SCEC Contribution #432

A two-dimensional solution for the scalar wave equation in a model of two vertical layers between two quarter spaces is used to study properties of seismic waves in a laterally heterogeneous low-velocity structure. The waves, referred to as seismic fault zone waves, include head waves, internal fault zone reflections, and trapped waves. The analysis aims to clarify the dependency of the waves on media velocities, media attenuation coefficients, layer widths, and source-receiver geometry. Additional calculations with extreme low-velocity layers provide examples that may be relevant for volcanic and geothermal domains. The interference patterns controlling seismic fault zone waves change with the number of internal reflections in the low-velocity structure. This number increases with propagation distance along the structure, decreases with fault zone width, and increases (for given length scales) with the velocity contrast. The relative lateral position of the source within the low-velocity layer modifies die length scales associated with internal reflections and influences the resulting interference pattern. Low values of Q affect considerably the dominant period and overall duration of the waves. Thus there are significant tradeoffs between propagation distance along the structure, fault zone width, velocity contrast, source location within the fault zone, and Q. The lateral and depth receiver coordinates determine the particular point where the interference pattern is sampled and observed motion is a strong function of both coordinates. The zone connecting sources generating fault zone waves and observation points with appreciable wave amplitude can be over an order of magnitude larger than the fault zone width. Calculations for cases with layer P wave velocity of ∼200 m s−1, modeling a vertical dike or crack with fluid and gas, show conspicuous persisting oscillations. The results resemble aspects of seismic data in volcanic domains. If these waves exist in observed records, their explicit recognition and modeling will help to separate source and structural effects and aid in the interpretation of volcano-seismology signals. Although the tradeoffs in parameters governing seismic fault zone waves are significant, each variable has its own signature, and the parameters may be constrained by additional geophysical data. Simultaneous modeling of many waveforms with an appropriate solution can resolve the various parameters and provide a high-resolution structural image.

Ben-Zion, Y. (1998). Properties Of Seismic Fault Zone Waves And Their Utility For Imaging Low Velocity Structures. Journal of Geophysical Research, 103(B6), 12567-12585.