A Caltech Library Service

Structure of the earth's core and lowermost mantle from seismic PKP waves


Song, Xiaodong (1994) Structure of the earth's core and lowermost mantle from seismic PKP waves. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/k5gh-th50.


This thesis addresses the fine structure, both radial and lateral, of compressional wave velocity and attenuation of the Earth's core and the lowermost mantle using waveforms, differential travel times and amplitudes of PKP waves, which penetrate the Earth's core.

The structure near the inner core boundary (ICB) is studied by analyzing waveforms of a regional sample. The waveform modeling approach is demonstrated to be an effective tool for constrainning the ICB structure. The best model features a sharp velocity jump of 0.78km/s at the ICB and a low velocity gradient at the lowermost outer core (indicating possible inhomogeneity) and high attenuation at the top of the inner core.

A spherically symmetric P-wave model of the core, is proposed from PKP differential times, waveforms and amplitudes. The ICB remains sharp with a velocity jump of 0. 78km/ s. A very low velocity gradient at the base of the fluid core is demonstrated to be a robust feature, indicating inhomogeneity is practically inevitable. The model also indicates that the attenuation in the inner core decreases with depth. The velocity at D" is smaller than PREM.

The inner core is confirmed to be very anisotropic, possessing a cylindrical symmetry around the Earth spin axis with the N-S direction 3% faster than the E-W direction. All of the N-S rays through the inner core were found to be faster than the E-W rays by 1.5 to 3.5s. Exhaustive data selection and efforts in insolating contributions from the region above ensure that this is an inner core feature.

The anisotropy at the very top of the inner core is found to be distinctly different from the deeper part. The top 60km of the inner core is not anisotropic. From 60km to 150km, there appears to be a transition from isotropy to anisotropy.

PKP differential travel times are used to study the P velocity structure in D". Systematic regional variations of up to 2s in AB-DF times were observed, attributed primarily to heterogeneities in the lower 500km of the mantle. However, direct comparisons with tomographic models are not successful.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Geology
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Geological and Planetary Sciences
Major Option:Geology
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Helmberger, Donald V.
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:18 May 1994
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05312013-094528303
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7788
Deposited By: Dan Anguka
Deposited On:31 May 2013 17:09
Last Modified:09 Nov 2022 19:20

Thesis Files

PDF - Final Version
See Usage Policy.


Repository Staff Only: item control page