Using a vibratory source at Mt. Etna (Italy) to investigate the wavefield polarization at Pernicana Fault
The paper presents the results of a controlled-source seismic experiment performed using a vibratory source capable of producing harmonic vibrations. The survey aimed at investigating the horizontal directional amplification mechanism observed at the Pernicana Fault (Mt. Etna in Sicily, Italy) along an N150°/N330° orientation. With the vibratory source (a shaker truck) working in shear-wave mode in the frequency range 5–40 Hz, we recorded seismic data using both three-component velocimeters and 4.5 Hz geophones. These two types of receivers were arranged in linear configu-ration along two orthogonal orientations: radial and transverse to the direction of the main polarization observed within the fault zone. The two lines of seismic stations allowed us to investigate the polarization evolution as a function of the distance from the source. Results show that when the shear excitation induced by the source is par-allel to the direction of observed polarization of the ground motion, the seismic signal propagates efficiently, maintaining the same horizontal polarization induced by the active source. This polarization is well recorded up to distances as large as 300 m from the source. On the contrary, when the shear excitation is orthogonal to the pre-dominant site polarization, the ground excitation loses its initial polarization in less than 50 m away from the source position. At larger distances, the transmitted energy propagates with the natural site polarization independently from the original source polarization. The observations in terms of polarization were combined with surface-wave analysis, aimed at investigating the dispersion characteristics of the wavefield on the geophone lines. The data suggest that the experimental Rayleigh-wave disper-sion spectra show a more coherent signal over the frequency range along the same orientation of the observed site polarization, supporting a preferential direction in the propagation of surface waves. From inversion of the Rayleigh dispersion curves, we inferred the shear-wave velocity (Vs) to be in the range of 120–450 m/s in the first 30 m deep of Quaternary volcanic sediments. The dispersion curves are not constant along transverse and radial directions, suggesting the presence of fracture-induced seismic anisotropy in the near surface.