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The fractal nature of the inhomogeneities in the lithosphere evidenced from seismic wave scattering

Abstract

In this paper we show evidences of the fractal nature of the 3-D inhomogeneities in the lithosphere from the study of seismic wave scattering and discuss the relation between the fractal dimension of the 3-D inhomogeneities and that of the fault surfaces. Two methods are introduced to measure the inhomogeneity spectrum of a random medium: 1. the coda excitation spectrum method, and 2. the method of measuring the frequency dependence of scattering attenuation. The fractal dimension can be obtained from the inhomogeneity spectrum of the medium. The coda excitation method is applied to the Hindu-Kush data. Based on the observed coda excitation spectra (for frequencies 1–25 Hz) and the past observations on the frequency dependence of scattering attenuation, we infer that the lithospheric inhomogeneities are multiple scaled and can be modeled as a bandlimited fractal random medium (BLFRM) with an outer scale of about 1 km. The fractal dimension of the 3-D inhomogeneities isD 3=31/2–32/3, which corresponds to a scaling exponent (Hurst number)H=1/2–1/3. The corresponding 1-D inhomogeneity spectra obey the power law with a powerp=2H+1=2–5/3. The intersection between the earth surface and the isostrength surface of the 3-D inhomogeneities will have fractal dimensionD 1=1.5–1.67. If we consider the earthquake fault surface as developed from the isosurface of the 3-D inhomogeneities and smoothed by the rupture dynamics, the fractal dimension of the fault trace on the surface must be smaller thanD 1, in agreement with recent measurements of fractal dimension along the San Andreas fault.

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Wu, R., Aki, K. The fractal nature of the inhomogeneities in the lithosphere evidenced from seismic wave scattering. PAGEOPH 123, 805–818 (1985). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00876971

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Key words

  • Fractal
  • wave scattering
  • seismic coda wave
  • lithospheric inhomogeneities
  • earthquake faults