T-phase Observations in Northern California: Acoustic to Seismic Coupling at a Weakly Elastic Boundary
- Plans for a hydroacoustic network intended to monitor compliance with the CTBT call for the inclusion of five T-phase stations situated at optimal locations for the detection of seismic phases converted from ocean-borne T phases. We examine factors affecting the sensitivity of land-based stations to the seismic T phase. The acoustic to seismic coupling phenomenon is described by upslope propagation of an acoustic ray impinging at a sloping elastic wedge. We examine acoustic to seismic coupling characteristics for two cases; the first in which the shear velocity of the bottom is greater than the compressional velocity of the fluid (i.e., vp > vs > vw), the second is a weakly elastic solid in which vs<< vw< vp. The former is representative of velocities in solid rock, which might be encountered at volcanic islands; the latter is representative of marine sediments. For the case where vs > vw, we show that acoustic energy couples primarily to shear wave energy, except at very high slope angles. We show that the weakly elastic solid (i.e., vs << vw) behaves nearly like a fluid bottom, with acoustic energy coupling to both P and S waves even at low slope angles.We examine converted T-wave arrivals at northern California seismic stations for two event clusters; one a series of earthquakes near the Hawaiian Islands, the other a series of nuclear tests conducted near the Tuamoto archipelago. Each cluster yielded characteristic arrivals at each station which were consistent from event to event within a cluster, but differed between clusters. The seismic T-phases consisted of both P- and S-wave arrivals, consistent with the conversion of acoustic to seismic energy at a gently sloping sediment-covered seafloor. In general, the amplitudes of the seismic T phases were highest for stations nearest the continental slope, where seafloor slopes are greatest, however noise levels decrease rapidly with increasing distance from the coastline, so that T-wave arrivals were observable at distances reaching several hundred kilometers from the coast. Signal-to-noise levels at the seismic stations are lower over the entire frequency spectrum than at the Pt. Sur hydrophone nearby, and decrease more rapidly with increasing frequency, particularly for stations furthest from the continental slope.