Tomography of crustal seismic attenuation in Metropolitan France: implications for seismicity analysis

  • Jessie Mayor
  • Paola Traversa
  • Marie Calvet
  • Ludovic Margerin
Original Research Paper


In this work, we map the absorption properties of the French crust by analyzing the decay properties of coda waves. Estimation of the coda quality factor \(Q_{c}\) in five non-overlapping frequency-bands between 1 and 32 Hz is performed for more than 12,000 high-quality seismograms from about 1700 weak to moderate crustal earthquakes recorded between 1995 and 2013. Based on sensitivity analysis, \(Q_{c}\) is subsequently approximated as an integral of the intrinsic shear wave quality factor \(Q_{i}\) along the ray connecting the source to the station. After discretization of the medium on a 2-D Cartesian grid, this yields a linear inverse problem for the spatial distribution of \(Q_{i}\). The solution is approximated by redistributing \(Q_{c}\) in the pixels connecting the source to the station and averaging over all paths. This simple procedure allows to obtain frequency-dependent maps of apparent absorption that show lateral variations of \(50\%\) at length scales ranging from 50 km to 150 km, in all the frequency bands analyzed. At low frequency, the small-scale geological features of the crust are clearly delineated: the Meso-Cenozoic basins (Aquitaine, Brabant, Southeast) appear as strong absorption regions, while crystalline massifs (Armorican, Central Massif, Alps) appear as low absorption zones. At high frequency, the correlation between the surface geological features and the absorption map disappears, except for the deepest Meso-Cenozoic basins which exhibit a strong absorption signature. Based on the tomographic results, we explore the implications of lateral variations of absorption for the analysis of both instrumental and historical seismicity. The main conclusions are as follows: (1) current local magnitude \(M_{L}\) can be over(resp. under)-estimated when absorption is weaker(resp. stronger) than the nominal value assumed in the amplitude-distance relation; (2) both the forward prediction of the earthquake macroseismic intensity field and the estimation of historical earthquake seismological parameters using macroseismic intensity data are significantly improved by taking into account a realistic 2-D distribution of absorption. In the future, both \(M_{L}\) estimations and macroseismic intensity attenuation models should benefit from high-resolution models of frequency-dependent absorption such as the one produced in this study.


Seismic attenuation Coda waves Absorption Metropolitan France 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessie Mayor
    • 1
  • Paola Traversa
    • 2
  • Marie Calvet
    • 3
  • Ludovic Margerin
    • 3
  1. 1.EDF R&DPalaiseauFrance
  2. 2.EDF-CEIDRE-TEGGAix-en-ProvenceFrance
  3. 3.Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et PlanétologieUniversité Paul Sabatier, C.N.R.SToulouseFrance

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