Studia Geophysica et Geodaetica

, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 691–710 | Cite as

Anomalous Rayleigh-Wave Propagation Along Oceanic Trench

  • Kiyoshi Yomogida
  • Riko Okuyama
  • Ichiro Nakanishi


A clear later phase of amplitude larger than the direct surface wave packet was observed at stations in Hokkaido, Japan, for several events of the December 1991 off-Urup earthquake swarm in the Kuril Islands region. From its particle motion, this phase is likely to be a fundamental Rayleigh wave packet that arrived with an azimuth largely deviated from each great-circle direction. As its origin, Nakanishi (1992) proposed that the sea-trench topography in this area as deep as 10 km may produce a narrow zone of low velocity for Rayleigh waves of periods around 15 sec. Following this idea, we compute ray paths and estimate how Rayleigh waves would propagate if we assume that lateral velocity variations are caused only by seafloor topography. We confirm that thick sea water in the trench indeed produces the phase velocity of Rayleigh waves to be smaller than in a surrounding area by the degree over 100%. Such a low-velocity zone appears only in a period range from 12 to 20 sec. Although this strong low-velocity zone disturbs the direction of Rayleigh wave propagation from its great circle, the overall ray paths are not so affected as far as an epicentre is outside this low-velocity zone, that is, off the trench axis. In contrast, the majority of rays are severely distorted for an event within the low-velocity zone or, in other words, in the neighborhood of the trench axis. For such an event, a part of wave energy appears to be trapped in this zone and eventually propagates outwards due to the curvature or bend of trench geometry, resulting in very late arriving waves of large amplitude with an incident direction clearly different from great circles. This phenomenon is observed only at a very limited period range around 16 sec. These theoretical results are consistent with the above mentioned observation of Nakanishi (1992).

Rayleigh wave later phase oceanic trench ray tracing 


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© StudiaGeo s.r.o. 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kiyoshi Yomogida
    • 1
  • Riko Okuyama
    • 2
  • Ichiro Nakanishi
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Graduate School of ScienceHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Planetary Systems Science, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of HiroshimaHigashi-HiroshimaJapan
  3. 3.Department of GeophysicsKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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