Acoustic waves generated from seismic surface waves: propagation properties determined from Doppler sounding observations and normal-mode modelling



Since 1960, experiments have shown that perturbations of the ionosphere can occur after earthquakes, by way of dynamic coupling between seismic surface waves and the atmosphere. The atmospheric wave is amplified exponentially while propagating upwards due to the decrease of density, and interaction with the ionospheric plasma leads to clearly identified signals on both ground-based or satellite ionospheric measurements. In 1999 and 2000, after an upgrade of the HF Doppler sounder, the Commisariat à l'Énergie Atomique systematically recorded these effects in the ionosphere with the Francourville (France) network, by measuring vertical oscillations of ionospheric layers with the Doppler technique. Normal-mode theory extended to a solid Earth with an atmosphere allows successful modelling of such signals, even if this 1-D approach is probably too crude, especially in the solid Earth, where 20 s surface waves see large lateral variations in the crust. The combination of observations and simulations provides a new tool to determine acoustic gravity wave propagation characteristics from the ground to ionospheric height. Observed velocity and amplification of the atmospheric waves show good agreement from the ground up to moderate sounding altitudes (140–150 km); however, at higher altitudes the propagation speed is found to be much smaller than predicted and attenuation is underestimated. This shows that the standard formalism of acoustic gravity waves in the atmosphere cannot efficiently describe propagation in the ionized atmosphere. Further work is needed to characterize the propagation of acoustic waves in this altitude range: we believe that seismic waves can provide a well-constrained source for such study.