Tectonic tremor provides a new source of observations that can be used to constrain the seismic attenuation parameter for ground‐motion prediction and hazard mapping. Traditionally, recorded earthquakes of magnitude ∼3–8 are used to develop ground‐motion prediction equations; however, typical earthquake records may be sparse in areas of high hazard. In this study, we constrain the distance decay of seismic waves using measurements of the amplitude decay of tectonic tremor, which is plentiful in some regions. Tectonic tremor occurs in the frequency band of interest for ground‐motion prediction (i.e., ∼2–8 Hz) and is located on the subducting plate interface, at the lower boundary of where future large earthquakes are expected. We empirically fit the distance decay of peak ground velocity from tremor to determine the attenuation parameter in four subduction zones: Nankai, Japan; Cascadia, United States–Canada; Jalisco, Mexico; and southern Chile. With the large amount of data available from tremor, we show that in the upper plate, the lower crust is less attenuating than the upper crust. We apply the same analysis to intraslab events in Nankai and show the possibility that waves traveling from deeper intraslab events experience more attenuation than those from the shallower tremor due to ray paths that pass through the subducting and highly attenuating oceanic crust. This suggests that high pore‐fluid pressure is present in the tremor source region. These differences imply that the attenuation parameter determined from intraslab earthquakes may underestimate ground motion for future large earthquakes on the plate interface.
Additional publication details
Seismic‐wave attenuation determined from tectonic tremor in multiple subduction zones