Tomography of core-mantle boundary and lowermost mantle coupled by geodynamics: joint models of shear and compressional velocity

Gaia Soldati, Lapo Boschi, Steve Della Mora, Alessandro M. Forte


We conduct joint tomographic inversions of P and S travel time observations to obtain models of delta v_P  and delta v_S in the entire mantle. We adopt a recently published method which takes into account the geodynamic coupling between mantle heterogeneity and core-mantle boundary (CMB) topography by viscous flow, where sensitivity of the seismic travel times to the CMB is accounted for implicitly in the inversion (i.e. the CMB topography is not explicitly inverted for). The seismic maps of the Earth's mantle and CMB topography that we derive can explain the inverted seismic data while being physically consistent with each other. The approach involved scaling P-wave velocity (more sensitive to the CMB) to density anomalies, in the assumption that mantle heterogeneity has a purely thermal origin, so that velocity and density heterogeneity are proportional to one another. On the other hand, it has sometimes been suggested that S-wave velocity might be more directly sensitive to temperature, while P heterogeneity is more strongly influenced by chemical composition. In the present study, we use only S-, and not P-velocity, to estimate density heterogeneity through linear scaling, and hence the sensitivity of core-reflected P phases to mantle structure. Regardless of whether density is more closely related to P- or S-velocity, we think it is worthwhile to explore both scaling approaches in our efforts to explain seismic data. The similarity of the results presented in this study to those obtained by scaling P-velocity to density suggests that compositional anomaly has a limited impact on viscous flow in the deep mantle.


Composition and state; Geological and geophysical evidences of deep processes; Mantle and Core dynamics; Tomography and anisotropy; Inverse methods

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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X