A Summary of Attenuation Measurements from Borehole Recordings of Earthquakes: The 10 Hz Transition Problem
Earthquake seismograms recorded by instruments in deep boreholes have low levels of background noise and wide signal bandwidth. They have been used to extend our knowledge of crustal attenuation both in the near-surface and at seismogenic depths. Site effects are of major importance to seismic hazard estimation, and the comparison of surface, shallow and deep recordings allows direct determination of the attenuation in the near-surface. All studies to date have found that Q is very low in the near-surface ( 10 in the upper 100 m), and increases rapidly with depth. Unlike site amplification, attenuation at shallow depths exhibits little dependence on rock-type. These observations are consistent with the opening of fractures under decreasing lithostatic pressure being the principal cause of the severe near-surface attenuation. Seismograms recorded in deep boreholes are relatively unaffected by near-surface effects, and thus can be used to measure crustal attenuation to higher frequencies (>= 100 Hz) than surface recordings. Studies using both direct and coda waves recorded at over 2 km depth find Q to be high ( 1000) at seismogenic depths in California, increasing only weakly with frequency between 10 and 100 Hz. Intrinsic attenuation appears to be the dominant mechanism. These observations contrast with those of the rapidly increasing Q with frequency determined from surface studies in the frequency range 1 to 10 Hz. Further work is necessary to constrain the factors responsible for this apparent change in the frequency dependence of Q, but it is clearly unwise to extrapolate Q estimates made below about 10 Hz to higher frequencies.