EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Using 2D long-streamer seismic waveform tomography to decipher sedimentary processes surrounding a forearc fault offshore Alaska

Amin Kahrizi1, Matthias Delescluse1, Mathieu Rodriguez1, Pierre-Henri Roche1, Anne Bécel2, Mladen R Nedimovic3, Donna Shillington4, Manuel Pubellier1, and Nicolas Chamot-Rooke1
Amin Kahrizi et al.
  • 1École normale supérieure, Geosciences, France (
  • 2Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, New York 10964, USA
  • 3Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2, Canada
  • 4Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011, USA

Acoustic full-waveform inversion (FWI), or waveform tomography, involves use of both phase and amplitude of the recorded compressional waves to obtain a high-resolution P-wave velocity model of the propagation medium. Recent theoretical and computing advances now allow the application of this highly non-linear technique to field data. This led to common use of the FWI for industrial purposes related to reservoir imaging, physical properties of rocks, and fluid flow. Application of FWI in the academic domain has, so far, been limited, mostly because of the lack of adequate seismic data. Modern multichannel seismic (MCS) reflection data acquisition now  have long offsets which, in some cases, enable constraining FWI-derived subsurface velocities at a significant enough depth to be useful for structural or tectonic purposes.

In this study, we show how FWI can help decipher the record of a fault activity through time at the Shumagin Gap in Alaska. The MCS data were acquired on R/V Marcus G. Langseth during the 2011 ALEUT cruise using two 8-km-long seismic streamers and a 6600 cu. in. tuned airgun array. One of the most noticeable reflection features imaged on two profiles is a large, landward-dipping normal fault in the overriding plate; a structural configuration making the area prone to generating both transoceanic and local tsunamis, including from landslides. This fault dips ~40°- 45°, cuts the entire crust and connects to the plate boundary fault at ~35 km depth, near the intersection of the megathrust with the forearc mantle wedge. The fault system reaches the surface at the shelf edge 75 km from the trench and forms the ~6-km deep Sanak basin. However, the record of the recent fault activity remains unclear as contouritic currents tend to be trapped by the topography created by faults, even after they are no longer active.  Erosion surfaces and onlaps from contouritic processes as well as gravity collapses and mass transport deposits result in a complex sedimentary record that make it challenging to evaluate the fault activity using conventional MCS imaging alone. The long streamers used facilitated recording of refraction arrivals in the targeted continental slope area, which permitted running streamer traveltime tomography followed by FWI to produce coincident detailed velocity profiles to complement the reflection sections. We performed FWI imaging on two 40-km-long sections of the ALEUT lines crossing the Sanak basin. The images reveal low velocities of mass transport deposits as well as velocity inversions that may indicate mechanically weak layers linking some faults to gravity sliding on a décollement. One section also shows a velocity inversion in continuity to a bottom simulating reflector (BSR) only partially visible in the reflection image. The BSR velocity anomaly abruptly disappears across the main normal fault suggesting either an impermeable barrier or a lack of trapped fluids/gas in the hanging wall.

How to cite: Kahrizi, A., Delescluse, M., Rodriguez, M., Roche, P.-H., Bécel, A., Nedimovic, M. R., Shillington, D., Pubellier, M., and Chamot-Rooke, N.: Using 2D long-streamer seismic waveform tomography to decipher sedimentary processes surrounding a forearc fault offshore Alaska, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13056,, 2021.


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