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Keywords:

  • anisotropy;
  • caustics;
  • inhomogeneity;
  • multipathing;
  • ray theory;
  • subduction zones;
  • wavefront modelling.

Summary

Traveltimes and amplitudes for P-waves from a 500 km-deep source in the Kuril subduction zone have been synthesized by ray tracing in smooth 3-D models that allow general anisotropy and inhomogeneity. the aim is to compare the effects of proposed anisotropy in or near slabs with those of lateral heterogeneity alone. to concentrate on these effects, the source position, slab thickness (90 km), dip (63°) and velocity anomaly (5 per cent) are held constant. Results are presented for isotropic models with slab penetration to 670km and 1000 km. Anisotropic models with 670 km-deep slabs have anisotropy within the slab (Anderson 1987) and in a 10° wedge above the slab (Ribe 1989a; McKenzie 1979). the resulting wavefront topology is never as simple as that in a laterally homogeneous reference Earth and there is strong model dependence of shadow zones, caustics and areas of multipathing.

Rays are traced through slab models defined by 3-D cubic-spline interpolation of up to 21 elastic constants. Outside the slab region, 1-D ray tracing through PREM and spherical trigonometry are used to complete the ray path. the results illustrate the importance of using both traveltime and amplitude information when interpreting slab structure from teleseismic data. Some anisotropic slab models have been found which produce large (>2 s) traveltime residuals that are similar in many parts of the world to those for the deep isotropic model, but the amplitude patterns are substantially different. the model with a deep isotropic slab produces a narrow band of large traveltime residuals (3 s) and high amplitudes in a region across northern Canada. This feature is due to the focusing of rays that have travelled down the high-velocity core of the deep slab. Regions where ray theory fails (i.e. caustics) are obvious through multipathing and amplitude singularities. Hilbert-transforms and Airy-type decay caustics should be observed in many places if the models presented are good representations of the Earth. Multipathing in along-strike regions is a pervasive feature of the models considered and the degree of such multipathing is highly dependent on the nature of the slab-boundary velocity gradients. the model with anisotropy above the slab produces multipathing (traveltime triplication) in the down-dip region (i.e. a narrow region through Europe). Identifying such non-linear or ‘catastrophic’ features in teleseismic data is potentially more diagnostic than linearized interpretations (automated inversion). Overall, the results show that a range of conservative models representing a range of structural theories can encompass a wide range of wavefront consequences.

Drs M. Weber and V. Červený are thanked for helpful reviews of the manuscript. Advice and reprints from Dr K. Fujita are appreciated and Dr D. L. Anderson is thanked for suggesting the anisotropic slab model with no isotropic velocity anomaly. the authors acknowledge the support of NSERC (Canada) through Operating Grant number A1465. J-M.K. is supported by an Amoco Postgraduate Scholarship and an Ontario Graduate Scholarship.