pure and applied geophysics

, Volume 153, Issue 2–4, pp 345–375 | Cite as

Attenuation of Broadband P and S Waves in Tonga: Observations of Frequency Dependent Q

  • M. P. Flanagan
  • D. A. Wiens


—Teleseismic broadband recordings of intermediate and deep focus earthquakes are used to quantify both compression (Q<alpha> and shear(Q<beta>) wave attenuation within the Lau backarc basin. A spectral-ratio method is employed to measure differential attenuation (<delta>t*) between the depth phases sS, pP, and sP and the direct S and P phases over the frequency band 0.05 and 0.5 Hz. We use a stacking algorithm to combine the spectra of several phase pairs from a single event, having similar azimuth and range, to obtain more robust <delta>t* measurements; these estimates are then used to compute the average Q above the focal depth. Q<beta> and Q<alpha> are measured directly from the sS-S and pP-P phase pairs respectively, however, the interpretation of <delta>t* measured from sP-P requires assumptions about the ratio Q<alpha> /Q<beta>. We find an empirical ratio of Q<alpha> /Q<beta> = 1.93 for this region and use it to compute Q<alpha> and Q<beta> from the QsP observations. We observe lateral and depth variations in both Qβ and Q>alpha< beneath the tectonically active Lau Basin and the geologically older, inactive Lau Ridge and Fiji Plateau. The upper 200 km beneath the Central and Northern Lau Basin show a Q<beta> of 45–57 and a Q<alpha> of 102–121, and Q appears to increase rapidly with depth. The upper 600 km beneath the Lau backarc basin has a Q<beta> of 118–138, while over the same depth interval we observe a higher Q<beta> of 139–161 beneath the Lau Ridge and Fiji Plateau. We also find Q<alpha> of 235–303 beneath the northern Lau Basin and a higher Q<alpha> of 292–316 beneath the Fiji Plateau and the Lau Ridge measured directly from pP-P phase pairs. These geographic trends in the broadband Q measurements correlate with our previous long-period estimates of Q<beta> in this region, however, the broadband measurements themselves are higher by about a factor of two. These observations suggest substantial frequency dependence of Q in the upper mantle, beginning at frequencies less than 1.0 Hz and consistent with the power-law form Q∝ωα with <alpha> between -0.1 and -0.3.

Key words: Attenuation, Frequency dependence, subduction zone. 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel, 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. P. Flanagan
    • 1
  • D. A. Wiens
    • 2
  1. 1.Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, USA. Fax: 619-534-5332, E-mail: megan@mahi.ucsd.eduUS
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA.US

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