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Published February 2006 | Published
Journal Article Open

Anomalous Seismic Amplitudes Measured in the Los Angeles Basin Interpreted as a Basin-Edge Diffraction Catastrophe

  • 1. ROR icon California Institute of Technology


The Los Angeles Basin Passive Seismic Experiment (labpse) involved the installation of an array of 18 seismic stations along a line crossing the Los Angeles basin from the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains through the Puente Hills to the coast. At 3–5 km spacing between stations the array has much higher resolution than the permanent network of stations in southern California. This resolution was found to be important for analyzing the factors that govern the amplitude variation across the basin. We inverted spectra of P- and S-body-wave seismograms from local earthquakes (M_L 2.1–4.8) for site effects, attenuation, and corner frequency factor using a standard model that assumes geometric spreading varying as inverse distance, exponential attenuation, and an ω^2 source model. The S-wave attenuation was separable into basin and bedrock contributions. In addition to the body-wave analysis, S-wave coda were analyzed for coda Q and coda-determined site effects. We find S- wave Q (Q_S) in bedrock is higher than in the basin. High-frequency Q_S is higher than low-frequency Q_S. Coda Q (Q_c) is higher than Q_S. P-wave Q (Q_P) was not separable into basement and bedrock values, so we determined an average value only. The corner frequencies for P and S waves were found to be nearly the same. The standard model fit over 97% of the S-wave data, but data from six clustered events incident along the basin edge within a restricted range of incidence and azimuth angles generated anomalous amplitudes of up to a factor of 5 higher than predicted. We test whether such basin-edge focusing might be modeled by catastrophe theory. After ruling out site, attenuation, and radiation effects, we conclude a caustic modeled as a diffraction catastrophe could explain both the frequency and spatial dependence of the anomalous variation.

Additional Information

Copyright © 2006 Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. Manuscript received 18 November 2004. Thanks to Aaron Martin for LABPSE installation and maintenance. We thank J. F. Nye for suggesting that catastrophe theory might be applicable. This work was supported by grants from the UCLA NSF Science and Technology Center for Embedded Networked Sensing (CENS; NSF STC award CCR-0120778) and by the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC). SCEC is funded by NSF Cooperative Agreement EAR-0106924 and USGS Cooperative Agreement 02HQAG0008. The SCEC contribution number for this article is 917. Support was also provided by U.S. Geological Survey grant 1434-HQ-97-R-3000. Shirley Baker is thanked for help with field work.

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