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Teleseismic attenuation, temperature, and melt of the upper mantle in the Alaska subduction zone
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  • Roque A. Soto Castaneda,
  • Geoffrey A. Abers,
  • Zachary C Eilon,
  • D H Christensen
Roque A. Soto Castaneda
Cornell University
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Geoffrey A. Abers
Cornell University

Corresponding Author:abers@cornell.edu

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Zachary C Eilon
University of California Santa Barbara
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D H Christensen
University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Seismic deployments in the Alaska subduction zone provide dense sampling of the seismic wavefield that constrains thermal structure and subduction geometry. We measure P and S attenuation from pairwise amplitude and phase spectral ratios for teleseismic body waves at 206 stations from regional and short-term arrays. Parallel teleseismic travel-time measurements provide information on seismic velocities at the same scale. These data show consistently low attenuation over the forearc of subduction systems and high attenuation over the arc and backarc, similar to local-earthquake attenuation studies but at 10´ lower frequencies. The pattern is seen both across the area of normal Pacific subduction in the Cook Inlet, and across the Wrangell Volcanic Field where subduction has been debated. These observations confirm subduction-dominated thermal regime beneath the latter. Travel times show evidence for subducting lithosphere much deeper than seismicity, while attenuation measurements appear mostly reflective of mantle temperature less than 150 km deep, depths where the mantle is closest to its solidus and where subduction-related melting may take place. Travel times show strong delays over thick sedimentary basins. Attenuation signals show no evidence of absorption by basins, although some basins show signals anomalously rich in high-frequency energy, with consequent negative apparent attenuation. Outside of basins, these data are consistent with mantle attenuation in the upper 220 km that is quantitatively similar to observations from surface waves and local-earthquake body waves. Differences between P and S attenuation suggest primarily shear-modulus relaxation. Overall the attenuation measurements show consistent, coherent subduction-related structure, complementary to travel times.
Jul 2021Published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth volume 126 issue 7. 10.1029/2021JB021653