Regional distance shear-coupled PL propagation within the northern Altiplano, central Andes

Jennifer L. Swenson, Susan Beck, George Zandt

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10 Scopus citations


Properties of the shear-coupled P wavetrain (SPL) from regional earthquakes provide important information about the structure of the crust and upper mantle. We investigate broad-band seismic data from intermediate-depth earthquakes and develop a grid search technique using synthetic seismograms to study the sensitivity of SPL and to model the crustal structure of the northern Altiplano, central Andes. Waveforms from an earthquake that occurred on 1994 December 12 within the Nazca slab beneath the Altiplano display a clear SPL wavetrain at the temporary stations deployed during the BANJO and SEDA experiments. We relocate this event and determine the moment tensor by inverting the complete long-period waveforms. With these source parameters fixed, we perform sensitivity analyses using a reflectivity technique to compute synthetic seismograms at a distance of 313 km (BANJO staion 2, SALI). We find that, at this distance, the long-period SPL wavetrain is sensitive to the following model parameters, in order of decreasing sensitivity: crustal V(P)/V(S), mantle V(P)/V(S), average crustal velocity, crustal thickness, focal depth, distance (location), crustal Q(α) and Q(β), and mantle velocity. We develop a grid search method to investigate the four parameters of the crust/upper mantle model to which the synthetic seismograms are most sensitive at SALI (crustal V(P)/V(S), mantle V(P)/V(S), average crustal velocity, crustal thickness). Trade-offs exist among all four of the model parameters, resulting in a range of acceptable crustal models that provide excellent fits between the data and synthetic seismograms in the passband of 15-100 s at a single station. However, by using data at a range of distances (150-450 km) we find that the model that provides the best overall fit between the data and synthetic seismograms, and thus best approximates the average characteristics of the crust and upper mantle structure of the northern Altiplano, is characterized by an average crustal velocity of 6.0 km s-1, a crustal Poisson's ratio (σ(crust)) of 0.25 and a mantle Poisson's ratio (σ(mantle)) of 0.27. The resulting models confirm previous estimates of low Poisson's ratios, low average crustal velocity and thick crust in the Altiplano.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)743-753
Number of pages11
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1999



  • Body waves
  • Crustal structure
  • Seismic wave propagation
  • Sensitivity
  • Synthetic seismograms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics

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