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P wave velocity variations in the Coso Region, California, derived from local earthquake travel times

By Marianne C. Walck and Robert W. Clayton


Inversion of 4036 P wave travel time residuals from 429 local earthquakes using a tomographic scheme provides information about three-dimensional upper crustal velocity variations in the Indian Wells Valley-Coso region of southeastern California. The residuals are calculated relative to a Coso-specific velocity model, corrected for station elevation, weighted, and back-projected along their ray paths through models defined with layers of blocks. Slowness variations in the surface layer reflect local geology, including slow velocities for the sedimentary basins of Indian Wells and Rose valleys and relatively fast velocities for the Sierra Nevada and Argus Mountains. In the depth range of 3–5 km the inversion images an area of reduced compressional velocity in western and northern Indian Wells Valley but finds no major velocity variations beneath the Coso volcanic field to the north. These results are consistent with a recent study of anomalous shear wave attenuation in the Coso region. Between 5 and 10 km depth, low-velocity areas (7% slow) appear at the southern end of the Coso volcanics, reaching east to the Coso Basin. Numerical tests of the inversion's resolution and sensitivity to noise indicate that these major anomalies are significant and well-resolved, while other apparent velocity variations in poorly sampled areas are probably artifacts. The seismic data alone are not sufficient to uniquely characterize the physical state of these low-velocity regions. Because of the Coso region's history of Pleistocene bimodal volcanism, high heat flow, geothermal activity, geodetic deformation, and seismic activity, one possibility is to link the zones of decreased P velocity to contemporary magmatic activity

Publisher: American Geophysical Union
Year: 1987
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Caltech Authors

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