Seismic-Wave Attenuation Associated with Crustal Faults in the New Madrid Seismic Zone

Science  20 Apr 1990:
Vol. 248, Issue 4953, pp. 351-354
DOI: 10.1126/science.248.4953.351


The attenuation of upper crustal seismic waves that are refracted with a velocity of about 6 kilometers per second varies greatly among profiles in the area of the New Madrid seismic zone in the central Mississippi Valley. The waves that have the strongest attenuation pass through the seismic trend along the axis of the Reelfoot rift in the area of the Blytheville arch. Defocusing of the waves in a low-velocity zone and/or seismic scattering and absorption could cause the attenuation; these effects are most likely associated with the highly deformed rocks along the arch. Consequently, strong seismic-wave attenuation may be a useful criterion for identifying seismogenic fault zones.