Detection of an ultralow velocity zone at the core-mantle boundary using diffracted PKKP<inf>ab</inf> waves

Sebastian Rost, Edward Garnero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


[1] Seismic phases diffracted around Earth's core contain information about lowermost mantle wave speeds. By measuring the slowness of incident diffracted energy from array recordings, seismic velocity along the diffracted path can be estimated. Here we apply this principle to diffraction of the major arc seismic phase PKKP<inf>ab</inf> recorded at the Canadian Yellowknife array to estimate P wave velocity variations along the core-mantle boundary. We observe PKKP<sup>diff</sup><inf>ab</inf> about 7.5° past the ray theoretical cutoff distance for PKKP<inf>ab</inf>. We utilize 330 western Pacific rim earthquakes that allow us to probe the core-mantle boundary beneath the North Atlantic and the South Pacific oceans using PKKP<sup>diff</sup><inf>ab</inf>. Slowness and back azimuth are measured by frequency-wave number analysis. Mapping PKKP<sup>diff</sup><inf>ab</inf> slowness variations suggest 4-19% P wave velocity reductions relative to PREM, in good agreement with the magnitude of velocity reductions previously mapped in ultralow velocity zones. The PKKP<sup>diff</sup><inf>ab</inf> slowness and back-azimuth variations combined with results from previous ULVZ studies using SP<inf>diff</inf>KS imply that the lowered velocities occur at the base of the mantle beneath the North Atlantic Ocean, along the receiver side of raypaths. PKKP<sup>diff</sup><inf>ab</inf> array measurements thus hold important potential for mapping ultralow velocity zone structure in so far unprobed regions of the lower mantle as well as for providing additional and independent information about lower mantle structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberB07309
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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