Journal Article

Wide-angle seismic velocities in heterogeneous crust

John Brittan and Mike Warner

in Geophysical Journal International

Volume 129, issue 2, pages 269-280
Published in print May 1997 | ISSN: 0956-540X
Published online May 1997 | e-ISSN: 1365-246X | DOI:
Wide-angle seismic velocities in heterogeneous crust

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Seismic velocities measured by wide-angle surveys are commonly used to constrain material composition in the deep crust. Therefore, it is important to understand how these velocities are affected by the presence of multiscale heterogeneities. The effects may be characterised by the scale of the heterogeneity relative to the dominant seismic wavelength (λ); what is clear is that heterogeneities of all scales and strengths bias wide-angle velocities to some degree. Waveform modelling was used to investigate the apparent wide-angle P-wave velocities of different heterogeneous lower crusts. A constant composition (50 per cent felsic and 50 per cent ultramafic) was formed into a variety of 1- and 2-D heterogeneous arrangements and the resulting wide-angle seismic velocity was estimated. Elastic, 1-D models produced the largest velocity shift relative to the true average velocity of the medium (which is the velocity of an isotropic mixture of the two components). Thick (width » λ) horizontal layers, as a result of Fermat's Principle, provided the largest increase in velocity; thin (width «λ) vertical layers produced the largest decrease in velocity. Acoustic 2-D algorithms were shown to be inadequate for modelling the kinematics of waves in bodies with multiscale heterogeneities. Elastic, 2-D modelling found velocity shifts (both positive and negative) that were of a smaller magnitude than those produced by 1-D models. The key to the magnitude of the velocity shift appears to be the connectivity of the fast (and/or slow) components. Thus, the models with the highest apparent levels of connectivity between the fast phases, the 1-D layers, produced the highest-magnitude velocity shifts. To understand the relationship between measured seismic velocities and petrology in the deep crust it is clear that high-resolution structural information (which describes such connectivity) must be included in any modelling.

Keywords: crust; inhomogeneous media; seismic velocities

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Geophysics

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