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Modelling converted seismic waveforms in isotropic and anisotropic 1-D gradients: discontinuous versus continuous gradient representations

Angus, DAC and Thomson, CJ (2012) Modelling converted seismic waveforms in isotropic and anisotropic 1-D gradients: discontinuous versus continuous gradient representations. Studia Geophysica et Geodaetica. ISSN 0039-3169


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Over the past decade, there have been numerous receiver function studies directed at imaging the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary (LAB). Although it is generally accepted that receiver function phases observed in these studies are derived from physical mode conversions at depth within the lithosphere-asthenosphere transition, it is still debatable as to whether these phases are directly indicative of the LAB. This is because interpretation of receiver function LAB signals relies on understanding the elastic characteristics of the Earth’s outer thermal boundary layer. The main issues for receiver function imaging are the sharpness of the elastic material property transition and, more importantly, what specifically are the material gradients. To test the various transition models, a forward modelling approach is required that allows accurate waveform synthetics for a range of discontinuous and continuous gradients in anisotropic, elastic media. We present a derivation of the reflection and transmission response for continuous one-dimensional (1-D) gradients in generally anisotropic elastic media. We evaluate the influence of 1-D isotropic and anisotropic elastic gradients on the seismic waveform by comparing numerical results of models for discontinuous and continuous transitions. The results indicate that discontinuous representations using layers each with uniform parameters and with thicknesses on the order of approximately 1/3 to 1/8 of the dominant seismic wavelength can be used to accurately model P-to-S and S-to-P mode conversions due to continuous transitions of both isotropic and anisotropic elastic properties. From a practical point of view, when comparing synthetic modelling with observation, this constraint can be relaxed further. The presence of signal noise and/or the result of receiver function stacking techniques will likely obscure these subtle waveform effects. Hence this study suggests that accurate synthetic waveforms for LAB transitions can be modelled with discontinuous gradient representations using a reasonable number of discrete transition layers with layer thicknesses no greater than 1/2 to 1/3 the dominant seismic wavelength.

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Earth and Environment (Leeds)
Depositing User: Symplectic Publications
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2012 13:11
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2014 03:40
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11200-011-1350-1
Status: Published
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Identification Number: 10.1007/s11200-011-1350-1
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/43863

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