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Published October 2007 | Published
Journal Article Open

Validating tomographic model with broad-band waveform modelling: an example from the LA RISTRA transect in the southwestern United States


Traveltime tomographic models of the LA RISTRA transect produce excellent waveform fits if we amplify the damped images. We observe systematic waveform distortions across the western edge of the Great Plains from South American events, starting about 300 km east of the centre of the Rio Grande Rift. The amplitude decreases by more than 50 per cent within array stations spanning less than 200 km while the pulse width increases by more than a factor of 2. This feature is not observed for the data arriving from the northwest. While the S-wave tomographic image shows a fast slab-like feature dipping to the southeast beneath the western edge of the Great Plains, synthetics generated from this model do not reproduce the waveform characteristics. However, once we modify the tomographic image by amplifying the velocity contrast between the slab and adjoining mantle by a factor of 2–3, the synthetics produce observed amplitude decay and pulse broadening. In addition to the traveltime delay, amplitude variation due to wave phenomena such as slab diffraction, focusing and defocusing provide much tighter constraints on the geometry of the fast anomaly and its amplitude and sharpness as demonstrated by a forward sensitivity test and snapshots of the seismic wavefield. Our preferred model locates the slab 200 km east of the Rio Grande Rift dipping 70°–75° to the southeast, extending to a depth near 600 km with a thickness of 120 km and a velocity of about 4 per cent fast. In short, adding waveform and amplitude components to regional tomographic studies can help validate and establish structural geometry, sharpness and velocity contrast.

Additional Information

© 2007 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2007 RAS. Accepted 2007 May 25. Received 2007 April 12; in original form 2006 November 14. The authors would like to thank Don Anderson for reviewing an early version of this paper and John VanDecar for pointing out early work on amplitude data. In particular, we appreciate comments from the editor Thorsten Becker, James Ni and an anonymous reviewer, which substantially improve and clarify this paper. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, Grant # EAR−0639507 and contribution no. 9173 of the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology.

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