Evaluating the applicability of a screen diffraction approximation to local volcano infrasound

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Sean Maher
Robin Matoza
Catherine de Groot-Hedlin
Keehoon Kim
Kent Gee


Atmospheric acoustic waves from volcanoes at infrasonic frequencies (0.01–20 Hz) can be used to estimate source parameters for hazard modeling, but signals are often distorted by wavefield interactions with topography, even at local recording distances (<15 km). We present new developments toward a simple empirical approach to estimate attenuation by topographic diffraction at reduced computational cost. We investigate the applicability of a thin screen diffraction relationship developed by Maekawa [1968, doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/0003-682X(68)90020- 0]. We use a 2D axisymmetric finite-difference method to show that this relationship accurately predicts power losses for infrasound diffraction over an idealized kilometer-scale screen; thus validating the scaling to infrasonic wavelengths. However, the Maekawa relationship overestimates attenuation for realistic volcano topography (using Sakurajima Volcano as an example). The attenuating effect of diffraction may be counteracted by constructive interference of multiple reflections along concave volcano slopes. We conclude that the Maekawa relationship is insufficient as formulated for volcano infrasound, and suggest modifications that may improve the prediction capability.


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Maher, S., Matoza, R., de Groot-Hedlin, C., Kim, K. and Gee, K. (2021) “Evaluating the applicability of a screen diffraction approximation to local volcano infrasound”, Volcanica, 4(1), pp. 67–85. doi: 10.30909/vol.04.01.6785.
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Received 2020-02-11
Accepted 2021-04-22
Published 2021-05-07
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