shadow zone | Energy Glossary

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shadow zone

1. n. [Geophysics]

Generally, an area of the Earth from which waves do not emerge or cannot be recorded. In seismology, the term is used to more specifically describe regions of the subsurface where P-waves and S-waves are difficult to detect, such as regions of the core at certain distances from the epicenter of an earthquake, or the point on the Earth's surface directly above an earthquake. Such zones were first observed in 1914 by Beno Gutenberg (1889 to 1960), an American geologist born in Germany. Because of the molten nature of the outer core, S-waves are especially difficult to detect at 103 to 142 degrees from the epicenter of an earthquake and not observable from 142 to 180 degrees from the epicenter. Areas below salt features are also called shadow zones because the high velocity of salt bends and traps energy, so seismic data quality beneath salt is generally poor unless special seismic processing is performed.

See: blind zoneP-waveS-waveseismology