Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Velocity structure of the Whataroa Valley using Ambient Noise Tomography

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Version 1 2021-11-22, 22:52
posted on 2023-09-22, 02:14 authored by McNab, Andy

This thesis applies ambient noise tomography to investigate the shallow structure of the Whataroa Valley. Ambient noise techniques are applied to continuous seismic recordings acquired on 158 geophones deployed during the Whataroa Active Source Seismic Experiment. Despite only having four days of data, a robust shear-wave velocity model is calculated using a phase-weighted stacking approach to improve the cross-correlation functions' signal-to-noise ratios, allowing for robust velocity measurements to be obtained between periods of 0.3 and 1.8\,s. This yields a database of 12,500 vertical component cross correlation functions and the corresponding Rayleigh wave phase and group velocity dispersion curves. Linearised straight-ray tomography is applied to phase and group velocity dispersion measurements at periods ranging from periods of 0.3 to 1.8\,s. The tomography reveals a velocity that decreases from the vicinity of the DFDP-2B borehole to the centre of the valley. This is interpreted to be the geologic basement deepening towards the centre of the valley. A Monte-Carlo inversion technique is used to jointly invert Rayleigh-wave phase and group velocity dispersion curves constructed from phase and group velocity tomography maps of successively higher periods. Linear interpolation of the resulting 1D shear-wave velocity profiles produces a pseudo-3D velocity model of the uppermost 1,000\,m of the Whataroa Valley. Using sharp increases in velocity to represent lithological change, we interpret two velocity contours at 1,150 and 1,250\,m/s as potential sediment-basement contacts. Depth isocontours of these velocities reveal that the basement deepens towards the centre of the valley, reaching a maximum depth of 400 or 600\,m for the 1,150 and 1,250\,m/s velocity contours respectively. These depths indicate strong glacial over-deepening and have implications for future drilling projects in the Whataroa Valley. A sharp velocity increase of 200\,m/s also occurs at 100\,m depth at the DFDP-2B borehole. We interpret this to be a change in sedimentary rock lithology from fluvial gravels to lacustrine silty sands, related to a change in sedimentary depositional environment.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

CC BY-ND 4.0

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Science

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Townend, John; Savage, Martha