Seismic wave attenuation beneath the Australasian region




Kennett, Brian
Agus, Abdulah

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Blackwell Publishing Ltd


The attenuation of seismic waves is strongly influenced by temperature and rheological changes, and so provides an important supplement to information from seismic wavespeeds. Differential attenuation measurements are made for seismic waves refracted through the mantle beneath the Australasian region and are then used to construct 3D images of the attenuation of shear and compressional waves. The differential attenuation between different seismic phases is estimated using a spectral ratio method in the frequency band 0.25-1.0 Hz using a multi-taper method. Over this band the attenuation is nearly independent of frequency so that the logarithmic spectral ratio is a linear function of frequency. Differential measurements are made either between P and S phases on the same record or between stations for P and S waves separately. Images of seismic attenuation for the Australasian region are produced using a tomographic inversion, with the fast marching method employed to trace ray paths in an initial 3-D model derived from surface wave tomography. There is a deep seated horizontal contrast between central Australia and the eastern seaboard. The crustal and lithospheric mantle beneath the Archean and Proterozoic rocks in the west and in the middle of the continent have low seismic attenuation, whereas the Phanerozoic material in the east is more attenuative. Regions with recent volcanism, most likely associated with hot spots such as near Bass Strait and the Coral Sea, display high seismic attenuation anomalies. There is a strong contrast in attenuation between the relatively low loss lithosphere and the high loss asthenosphere beneath with a change by a factor of 6-10. Anisotropy in attenuation is slight even though some would be expected from the radial anisotropy seen in shear wavespeed in the lithosphere.



Keywords: asthenosphere; lithosphere; seismic anisotropy; seismic attenuation; seismic tomography; seismic wave; Australasia; Anthozoa Asthenosphere; Attenuation; Australian continent; Lithosphere; Seismic waves; Tomography



Australian Journal of Earth Sciences


Journal article

Book Title

Entity type

Access Statement

License Rights



Restricted until