Imaging P- and S-wave velocity structures in hydrate bearing sediments along an OBS profile across the Yuan-An Ridge, off southwest Taiwan

  • Author(s): Win-Bin Cheng, Yi-Ru Wu, Chin-Wei Liang, Jing-Yi Lin, and Shu-Kun Hsu
  • DOI: 10.3319/TAO.2017.07.04.01
  • Keywords: Marine slope instability, Ocean bottom seismometer, Seismic velocity
  • Investigate seismic velocity structure of the high priority drilling site-Yuan-An Ridge
  • P-S conversion arrivals were used to model Vs model
  • The results might increase our understanding on the risk of marine slope instability

In order to improve our understanding of the marine slope instability of hydrate-bearing sediments in the offshore southwestern Taiwan, P-waves and S-waves seismic data generated by P-S conversion on reflection from airgun shots recorded from a multi-component Ocean Bottom Seismometer (OBS) survey were used to construct two-dimensional velocity model. The investigated profile lies above a structural high of the Yuan-An ridge, proposed as a high priority drilling site for gas hydrate investigations off southwest Taiwan. The locations of the OBSs were determined with high accuracy by an inversion based on the shot traveltimes. Traveltime inversion and forward modeling of seismic data result in general trends P-wave and S-wave velocities of sediments. Generally, P-wave and S-wave velocities are high beneath topographic ridges which might represent a series of thrust-cored anticlines develop in the accretionary wedge. P-wave velocities of the sea floor are about ~1.58 km/s, increasing to the bottom simulating reflectors (BSR), reaching values of about ~2 km/s. Below it, a low velocity layer (1.62-1.74 km/s) is observed, which indicates the presence free gas in the sedimentary layer. S-wave velocities of the sediments over the entire section range from 0.3 to ~0.6 km/s. Significant lateral velocity variations were found beneath the eastern flank of the Yuan-An ridge, probably represents thrust faults that extend from seafloor to hydrate-bearing layer. We suggest that the BSR has been disturbed by the thrust faults and further rupture of the fault could potentially trigger failures in the study area.

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