Memory-variable methods have been widely applied to approximate frequency-independent quality factor Q in numerical simulation of wave propagation. The frequency-independent model is often appropriate for frequencies up to about 1 Hz but at higher frequencies is inconsistent with some regional studies of seismic attenuation. We apply the memory-variable approach to frequency-dependent Q models that are constant below, and follow a power-law above, a chosen transition frequency. We present numerical results for the corresponding memory-variable relaxation times and weights, obtained by nonnegative least-squares fitting of the Q(f ) function, for a range of exponent values; these times and weights can be scaled to an arbitrary transition frequency and a power-law prefactor, respectively. The resulting memory-variable formulation can be used with numerical wave-propagation solvers based on methods such as finite differences (FDs) or spectral elements and may be implemented in either conventional or coarse-grained form. In the coarse-grained approach, we fit effective Q for low-Q values (<200) using a nonlinear inversion technique and use an interpolation formula to find the corresponding weighting coefficients for arbitrary Q. A 3D staggered-grid FD implementation closely approximates the frequency–wavenumber solution to both a half-space and a layered model with a shallow dislocation source for Q as low as 20 over a bandwidth of two decades. We compare the effects of different power-law exponents using a finite-fault source model of the 2008 Mw 5.4 Chino Hills, California, earthquake and find that Q(f ) models generally better fit the strong-motion data than the constant Q models for frequencies above 1 Hz.

Online Material: Figures comparing finite difference and frequency–wavenumber seismograms for an elastic layered-model point source simulation. Median spectral acceleration centered at 1 s and Fourier amplitude centered at 0.25 and 2.25 Hz for strong ground motion recordings and synthetics from the Chino Hills earthquake.

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