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Title: Insights into Permafrost and Seasonal Active-Layer Dynamics from Ambient Seismic Noise Monitoring

Abstract

Widespread permafrost thaw in response to changing climate conditions has the potential to dramatically impact ecosystems, infrastructure, and the global carbon budget. Ambient seismic noise techniques allow passive subsurface monitoring that could provide new insights into permafrost vulnerability and active–layer processes. Using nearly 2 years of continuous seismic data recorded near Fairbanks, Alaska, we measured relative velocity variations that showed a clear seasonal cycle reflecting active–layer freeze and thaw. Relative to January 2014, velocities increased up to 3% through late spring, decreased to –8% by late August, then gradually returned to the initial values by the following winter. Velocities responded rapidly (over ~2 to 7 days) to discrete hydrologic events and temperature forcing and indicated that spring snowmelt and infiltration events from summer rainfall were particularly influential in propagating thaw across the site. Velocity increases during the fall zero–curtain captured the re–freezing process and incremental ice formation. Looking across multiple frequency bands (3–30 Hz), negative relative velocities began at higher frequencies earlier in the summer then shifted lower when active–layer thaw deepened, suggesting a potential relationship between frequency and thaw depth; however, this response was dependent on interstation distance. Bayesian tomography returned 2–D time–lapse images identifying zones of greatest velocitymore » reduction concentrated in the western side of the array, providing insight into the spatial variability of thaw progression, soil moisture, and drainage. Furthermore, this study demonstrates the potential of passive seismic monitoring as a new tool for studying site–scale active–layer and permafrost thaw processes at high temporal and spatial resolution.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [3]; ORCiD logo [4]
  1. Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL (United States); U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO (United States)
  2. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
  3. California Inst. of Technology (CalTech), Pasadena, CA (United States)
  4. Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
OSTI Identifier:
1528869
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1542506
Report Number(s):
SAND-2019-6690J; SAND-2019-2136J
Journal ID: ISSN 2169-9003; 676448
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC04-94AL85000; DE‐NA0003525
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research. Earth Surface
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 124; Journal Issue: 7; Journal ID: ISSN 2169-9003
Publisher:
American Geophysical Union
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
58 GEOSCIENCES; ambient seismic noise; permafrost; active layer; velocity variations; seismic interferometry

Citation Formats

James, S. R., Knox, H. A., Abbott, R. E., Panning, M. P., and Screaton, E. J. Insights into Permafrost and Seasonal Active-Layer Dynamics from Ambient Seismic Noise Monitoring. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.1029/2019JF005051.
James, S. R., Knox, H. A., Abbott, R. E., Panning, M. P., & Screaton, E. J. Insights into Permafrost and Seasonal Active-Layer Dynamics from Ambient Seismic Noise Monitoring. United States. doi:10.1029/2019JF005051.
James, S. R., Knox, H. A., Abbott, R. E., Panning, M. P., and Screaton, E. J. Thu . "Insights into Permafrost and Seasonal Active-Layer Dynamics from Ambient Seismic Noise Monitoring". United States. doi:10.1029/2019JF005051.
@article{osti_1528869,
title = {Insights into Permafrost and Seasonal Active-Layer Dynamics from Ambient Seismic Noise Monitoring},
author = {James, S. R. and Knox, H. A. and Abbott, R. E. and Panning, M. P. and Screaton, E. J.},
abstractNote = {Widespread permafrost thaw in response to changing climate conditions has the potential to dramatically impact ecosystems, infrastructure, and the global carbon budget. Ambient seismic noise techniques allow passive subsurface monitoring that could provide new insights into permafrost vulnerability and active–layer processes. Using nearly 2 years of continuous seismic data recorded near Fairbanks, Alaska, we measured relative velocity variations that showed a clear seasonal cycle reflecting active–layer freeze and thaw. Relative to January 2014, velocities increased up to 3% through late spring, decreased to –8% by late August, then gradually returned to the initial values by the following winter. Velocities responded rapidly (over ~2 to 7 days) to discrete hydrologic events and temperature forcing and indicated that spring snowmelt and infiltration events from summer rainfall were particularly influential in propagating thaw across the site. Velocity increases during the fall zero–curtain captured the re–freezing process and incremental ice formation. Looking across multiple frequency bands (3–30 Hz), negative relative velocities began at higher frequencies earlier in the summer then shifted lower when active–layer thaw deepened, suggesting a potential relationship between frequency and thaw depth; however, this response was dependent on interstation distance. Bayesian tomography returned 2–D time–lapse images identifying zones of greatest velocity reduction concentrated in the western side of the array, providing insight into the spatial variability of thaw progression, soil moisture, and drainage. Furthermore, this study demonstrates the potential of passive seismic monitoring as a new tool for studying site–scale active–layer and permafrost thaw processes at high temporal and spatial resolution.},
doi = {10.1029/2019JF005051},
journal = {Journal of Geophysical Research. Earth Surface},
number = 7,
volume = 124,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {6}
}

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