Exciting news! We're transitioning to the Statewide California Earthquake Center. Our new website is under construction, but we'll continue using this website for SCEC business in the meantime. We're also archiving the Southern Center site to preserve its rich history. A new and improved platform is coming soon!

Seismic tomography of the southern California crust based on spectral-element and adjoint methods

Carl H. Tape, Qinya Liu, Alessia Maggi, & Jeroen Tromp

Published 2010, SCEC Contribution #1297

We iteratively improve a three-dimensional tomographic model of the southern California crust using numerical simulations of seismic wave propagation based upon a spectral-element method (SEM) in combination with an adjoint method. The initial 3D model is provided by the Southern California Earthquake Center. The dataset comprises three-component seismic waveforms (i.e., both body and surface waves), filtered over the period range 2-30 s, from 143 local earthquakes recorded by a network of 203 stations. Time windows for measurements are automatically selected by the FLEXWIN algorithm. The misfit function in the tomographic inversion is based upon frequency-dependent multitaper traveltime differences. The gradient of the misfit function and related finite-frequency sensitivity kernels for each earthquake are computed using an adjoint technique. The kernels are combined using a source subspace projection method to compute a model update at each iteration of a gradient-based minimization algorithm. The inversion involved 16 iterations, which required 6800 wavefield simulations and a total of 0.8 million CPU hours. The new crustal model, m16, is described in terms of independent shear (Vs) and bulk-sound (Vb) wavespeed variations. It exhibits strong heterogeneity, including local changes of +/- 30% with respect to the initial 3D model. The model reveals several features that relate to geologic observations, such as sedimentary basins, exhumed batholiths, and contrasting lithologies across faults. The quality of the new model is validated by quantifying waveform misfits of full-length seismograms from 91 earthquakes that were not used in the tomographic inversion. The new model provides more accurate synthetic seismograms that will benefit seismic hazard assessment.

Tape, C. H., Liu, Q., Maggi, A., & Tromp, J. (2010). Seismic tomography of the southern California crust based on spectral-element and adjoint methods. Geophysical Journal International, 180, 433-462.