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Imaging Strong Lateral Heterogeneities Across the Contiguous US Using Body‐To‐Surface Wave Scattering

Yu, Chunquan and Castellanos, Jorge C. and Zhan, Zhongwen (2021) Imaging Strong Lateral Heterogeneities Across the Contiguous US Using Body‐To‐Surface Wave Scattering. Journal of Geophysical Research. Solid Earth, 126 (1). Art. No. e2020JB020798. ISSN 2169-9313.

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Body‐to‐surface wave scattering, originated from strong lateral heterogeneity, has been observed and modeled for decades. Compared to body waves, scattered surface waves propagate along the Earth's surface with less energy loss and, thus, can be observed over a wider distance range. In this study, we utilize surface waves converted from teleseismic SH or Sdiff wave incidence to map strong lateral heterogeneities across the entire contiguous United States. We apply array‐based phase coherence analysis to broadband waveforms recorded by the USArray Transportable Array and other permanent/temporary networks to detect coherent signals that are associated with body‐to‐surface wave scattering. We then locate the source of the scattering by back‐propagating the beamformed energy using both straight‐ray and curved‐ray approximations. Our results show that the distribution of scatterers correlates well with known geological features across the contiguous United States. Topographic/bathymetric relief along the continental slope off the Pacific Border is the major source of scattering in the western United States. On the other hand, sedimentary basins, especially their margins, are the dominant scatterers in the central United States. Moho offsets, such as the one around the periphery of the Colorado Plateau, are also a strong contributor to scattering, but isolating their effect from that of other near‐surface structures without any additional constraints can be complicated. Finally, we demonstrate the possibility of using scattered surface waves to constrain subsurface velocity structures, as complementary to conventional earthquake‐ or ambient noise‐based surface wave tomography.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper ItemIncorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) Data Management Center ItemCrazyseismic Software
Yu, Chunquan0000-0001-8681-8572
Castellanos, Jorge C.0000-0002-0103-6430
Zhan, Zhongwen0000-0002-5586-2607
Additional Information:© 2020 American Geophysical Union. Issue Online: 06 January 2021; Version of Record online: 06 January 2021; Accepted manuscript online: 10 December 2020; Manuscript accepted: 26 November 2020; Manuscript revised: 14 November 2020; Manuscript received: 17 August 2020. All seismic waveforms were retrieved from the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) Data Management Center (, last accessed August 2020). The authors thank associate editor Nori Nakata and two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments. This research is supported by the NSF EarthScope (Grant no. 1829496) (Z. Zhan), NSFC (Grant no. 41974043) (C. Yu), and Key Special Project for Introduced Talents Team of Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Guangzhou) (GML2019ZD0203). Data Availability Statement: The open source Crazyseismic software is now freely available on Github (
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Natural Science Foundation of China41974043
Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong LaboratoryGML2019ZD0203
Subject Keywords:back projection; body‐to‐surface wave conversion; lateral heterogeneities; Moho offset; seismic scattering
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20201027-070510549
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Yu, C., Castellanos, J. C., & Zhan, Z. (2021). Imaging strong lateral heterogeneities across the contiguous US using body‐to‐surface wave scattering. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 126, e2020JB020798.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:106283
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:27 Oct 2020 17:07
Last Modified:01 Jul 2021 08:05

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