Seismic attenuation in the crust at the mid‐Atlantic plate boundary in south‐west Iceland

William Menke, Vadim Levin, Ravi Sethi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Very little seismic attenuation occurs in the mid to lower crust of south‐west Iceland. The lowest path‐averaged quality factor for a wave turning in the mid to lower crust (12–20 km) is QP= 110 for P waves and QS= 250 for S waves, with most of the data having higher values, typically QP= 200–300 and QS= 400–600. Attenuation estimates based on a 1‐D, layered inversion give correspondingly high values, QP > 800 and QS= 800–2000. These Q values are inconsistent with thermal models that predict a broad (100 km wide) region of above‐solidus temperatures centred on the volcanic zones. The observed attenuation implies an upper limit for mid to lower crustal temperature in the 700–775°C range (assuming a gabbroic lithology). Much higher attenuation (QP= 60, QS= 100) occurs in the uppermost 4 km of crust. This is most likely apparent attenuation caused by strong near‐surface seismic heterogeneity, resulting from fissures, faults and extreme changes in porosity (up to 20–30 per cent). The quality factor of the near‐surface layer varies regionally, and is lower in volcanic zones than in either the Reykjanes Peninsula or the South Iceland Lowland.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-182
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


  • crust
  • quality factor
  • seismic attenuation
  • shear waves

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Seismic attenuation in the crust at the mid‐Atlantic plate boundary in south‐west Iceland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this