Small-Scale Volcanic Structures of the Aeolian Volcanic Arc Revealed by Seismic Attenuation

I. Castro-Melgar, J. Prudencio, A. Cannata, E. Del Pezzo, Jesus Ibanez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


We present the first two-dimensional (2-D) spatial distribution of seismic scattering and intrinsic attenuation beneath the Aeolian Islands arc. The Aeolian Islands archipelago represents one of the best examples of a small dimension volcanic island arc characterised by the alternation of different structural domains. Using the seismic wave diffusion model as the basis for the analysis, and using data from an active seismic experiment (TOMO-ETNA), we analysed more than 76,700 seismic paths marked by epicentre-seismic station pairs. Based on frequencies of 4–24 Hz, we identified high regional attenuation, comparable with other volcanic areas of the world. We used two different seismogram lengths, reflecting two different sampling depths, which allowed us to observe two different attenuative behaviours. As in most volcanic regions, scattering attenuation predominates over intrinsic attenuation, but some characteristics are area-specific. Volcanic structures present the highest contribution to scattering, especially in the low frequency range. This behaviour is interpreted to reflect the small size of the islands and the potentially relatively small size of individual magmatic feeding systems. In addition, strong scattering observed in one zone is associated with the northernmost part of the so-called Aeolian-Tindari-Letojanni fault system. In contrast, away from the volcanic islands, intrinsic attenuation dominates over scattering attenuation. We interpret this shift in attenuative behaviour as reflecting the large volume of sedimentary material deposited on the seabed. Owing to their poorly consolidated nature, sediments facilitate intrinsic attenuation via energy dissipation, but in general present high structural homogeneity that is reflected by low levels of scattering. Our results show that this region is not underlain by a large volcanic structural complex such as that beneath nearby Mt. Etna volcano. Instead, we observe dimensionally smaller and isolated subsurface volcanic structures. The identification of such features facilitates improved geological interpretation; we can now separate consolidated marine structures from independent subsurface volcanic elements. The results of this study provide a model for new research in similar regions around the world.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Earth Science
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


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