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Preliminary implications of viscoelastic ray theory for anelastic seismic tomography models

April 4, 2024

The recent developments in general viscoelastic ray theory provide a rigorous mathematical framework for anelastic seismic tomography. They provide closed‐form solutions of forward ray‐tracing and simple inverse problems for anelastic horizontal and spherical layered media with material gradients. They provide ray‐tracing computation algorithms valid for all angles of incidence that account for changes in wave speed, attenuation, and trajectory of anelastic P and S body waves induced by anelastic boundaries. They account for theoretical predictions that seismic waves refract as inhomogeneous waves across anelastic boundaries for all angles of incidence, which in turn accounts for energy carried by plane waves along seismic boundaries at head wave critical angles and wide‐angle refracted (WAR) ray paths that are not predicted by elastic models. Exact viscoelastic ray‐tracing numerical results for various models provide examples that illustrate the effects of anelastic boundaries on the travel times and amplitudes of seismic waves. They show the effects are strongly dependent on angle of incidence. For near‐critical and wide angles of incidence the anelastic effects on travel times and amplitudes can be large and are not explained by elastic ray theory, but the effects on travel times can be relatively small and difficult to distinguish from those for elastic media for pre‐near‐critical angles of incidence. The results for some models indicate that reflected anelastic WAR waves may be observable at the surface and possibly account for some prominent seismic arrivals not explained by elasticity. These preliminary results suggest that the application of exact viscoelastic ray‐tracing computation algorithms to exploration and teleseismic data sets can reveal new insights regarding the properties and distribution of anelastic materials in the Earth.

Publication Year 2024
Title Preliminary implications of viscoelastic ray theory for anelastic seismic tomography models
DOI 10.1785/0120230226
Authors Roger D. Borcherdt
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Index ID 70252873
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earthquake Science Center