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Published December 10, 1978 | Published
Journal Article Open

Q of the Earth


Regional body wave and surface wave studies indicate that there is a low-Q upper mantle layer underlying a high-Q lithosphere. Great circle surface wave attenuation is used to refine the Q structure of the upper mantle and to demonstrate that these features are consistent with the global data. Body wave results are used to constrain the average Q of various regions of the mantle and core and the Q gradient in the lower mantle. Normal mode data are used to test the hypotheses that bulk dissipation is not required in the mantle and that the inner core has low Q. Both hypotheses are consistent with the data. The data are also consistent with a smooth increase of Q with depth over most of the lower mantle and a low-Q zone at the base of the mantle. The radial modes require bulk dissipation somewhere in the earth, probably in the inner core. A series of parametric models is presented which illustrate the sensitivity of the attenuation data to major features of the Q distribution.

Additional Information

© 1978 American Geophysical Union. Received February 2, 1977; revised August 16, 1978; accepted September 18, 1978. We thank Hiroo Kanamori, L. Burdick, A. Dziewonski, T. Ahrens, and R. Sailor for their helpful discussions and comments. E. Okal, F. Gilbert, R. Buland, R. Sailor, A. Dziewonski, B. Bolt, D. Brillinger, R. Geller, and S. Stein kindly made available data prior to publication. Freeman Gilbert and Ray Buland provided us with an extensive eigenfunction data tape which was invaluable for the present study. We thank Freeman Gilbert for his recommendations for improving the manuscript. This research was supported by the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense and was monitored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under contract F49620-77-0022 and by National Science Foundation grant EAR77-14675. Contribution 2848, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125.

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