Insights into the lithospheric architecture of Iberia and Morocco from teleseismic body-wave attenuation

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13 Scopus citations


The long and often complicated tectonic history of continental lithosphere results in lateral strength heterogeneities which in turn affect the style and localization of deformation. In this study, we produce a model for the attenuation structure of Iberia and northern Morocco using a waveform-matching approach on P-wave data from teleseismic deep-focus earthquakes. We find that attenuation is correlated with zones of intraplate deformation and seismicity, but do not find a consistent relationship between attenuation and recent volcanism. The main features of our model are low to moderate Δt in the undeformed Tertiary basins of Spain and high Δt in areas deformed by the Alpine orogeny. Additionally, low Δt is found in areas where the Alboran slab is thought to be attached to the Iberian and African lithosphere, and high Δt where it has detached. These features are robust with respect to inversion parameters, and are consistent with independent data. Very mild backazimuthal dependence of the measurements and comparison with previous results suggest that the source of the attenuation is sub-crustal. In line with other recent studies, the range of Δt we observe is much larger than can be expected from lithospheric thickness or temperature variations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-26
Number of pages13
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatePublished - Nov 15 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author wishes to thank Eugene Humphreys, Imma Palomeras, and Joseph Byrnes as well as two anonymous reviewers for comments that helped improve this manuscript. The collection of the data used in this study was supported by the PICASSO project ( NSF grant EAR-0808939 ) and the Consolider-Ingenio 2010 project TOPO-IBERIA ( CSD2006-00041 ) as well as ALERT-ES ( CGL2010-19803-C03-02 ). Kind thanks to Ingo Grevemeyer for providing access to data from the TOPO-MED OBS deployment as well as Christine Thomas and James Wookey for access to data from Münster and Bristol stations in western Morocco.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • intraplate deformation
  • intraplate seismicity
  • seismic attenuation
  • western Mediterranean


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