Mid-ocean microseisms

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Abstract

[1] The Hawaii-2 Observatory (H2O) is an excellent site for studying the source regions and propagation of microseisms since it is located far from shorelines and shallow water. During Leg 200 of the Ocean Drilling Program, the officers of the JOIDES Resolution took wind and wave measurements for comparison with double-frequency (DF) microseism data collected at nearby H2O. The DF microseism band can be divided into short-period and long-period bands, SPDF and LPDF, respectively. Comparison of the ship's weather log with the seismic data in the SPDF band from about 0.20 to 0.45 Hz shows a strong correlation of seismic amplitude with wind speed and direction, implying that the energy reaching the ocean floor is generated locally by ocean gravity waves. Nearshore land seismic stations see similar SPDF spectra, also generated locally by wind seas. At H2O, SPDF microseism amplitudes lag sustained changes in wind speed and direction by several hours, with the lag increasing with wave period. This lag may be associated with the time necessary for the development of opposing seas for DF microseism generation. Correlation of swell height above H2O with the LPDF band from 0.085 to 0.20 Hz is often poor, implying that a significant portion of this energy originates at distant locations. Correlation of the H2O seismic data with NOAA buoy data, with hindcast wave height data from the North Pacific, and with seismic data from mainland and island stations, defines likely source areas of the LPDF signals. Most of the LPDF energy at H2O appears to be generated by high-amplitude storm waves impacting long stretches of coastline nearly simultaneously, and the Hawaiian Islands appear to be a significant source of LPDF energy in the North Pacific when waves arrive from particular directions. The highest levels observed at mid-ocean site H2O occur in the SPDF band when two coincident nearby storm systems develop. Deep water, mid-ocean-generated DF microseisms are not observed at continental sites, indicating high attenuation of these signals. At near-coastal seismic stations, both SPDF and LPDF microseism levels are generally dominated by local generation at nearby shorelines.

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