Attenuation differences in layer 2A in intermediate- and slow-spreading oceanic crust Academic Article uri icon


  • In situ seismic attenuation Q-1 logs are derived from borehole velocity profiles and reveal sharp boundaries between morphologies of the extrusive volcanic layers in intermediate- and slow-spreading oceanic crust. Q-1 logs are calculated from the scattering attenuation associated with vertical velocity heterogeneity in Ocean Drilling Program Holes 504B and 896A and in Hole 395A, located in 5.9-7.3 Ma crust on the Pacific and Atlantic plates, respectively. Our results strongly tie crustal properties to seismic measurables and observed geological structures: we find that the scattering attenuation can be used to identify the extrusive volcanic sequence because it is closely related to changes in the degree of vertical heterogeneity. We interpret a distinct decrease in the Q-1 log at the transition below the extrusive volcanic layer to correspond with the seismic layer 2A/2B boundary. The boundary is located at 465 m depth below the sea floor in both Hole 395A and 504B, although this is likely to be a coincidence of the sediment thickness at these sites. Layer 2A is estimated to be approximately 150 m thick in Hole 504B and > 300 m thick in Hole 395A. Cyclic sequences of high-porosity pillows and low-porosity massive units in the uppermost 100 m of volcanics in Hole 395A result in large velocity heterogeneities which cause > 5 times more attenuation in this layer than in Hole 504B. In Hole 896A, by contrast, fewer pillows, more massive flows, and a greater volume of carbonate veins decrease the velocity heterogeneity and attenuation significantly over only 1 km distance from Hole 504B. We conclude that the attenuation in the extrusive volcanics of the ocean crust is largely controlled by variation in local heterogeneity and morphology as well as by subsequent hydrothermal alteration. The observed differences in Q-1 profiles and layer 2A thickness at these sites may be attributed to variations in the volume and duration of volcanic activity at mid-ocean spreading centers for these Pacific and Atlantic ridge segments. 1997 Elsevier Science B.V.

published proceedings

  • Earth and Planetary Science Letters

author list (cited authors)

  • Goldberg, D., & Sun, Y. F.

citation count

  • 11

complete list of authors

  • Goldberg, D||Sun, YF

publication date

  • January 1997