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Converted-wave reverse time migration imaging in subduction zone settings

August 3, 2023

We use a newly developed 2-D elastic reverse time migration (RTM) imaging algorithm based on the Helmholtz decomposition to test approaches for imaging the descending slab in subduction zone regions using local earthquake sources. Our elastic RTM method is designed to reconstruct incident and scattered wavefields at depth, isolate constituent P- and S-wave components via Helmholtz decomposition, and evaluate normalized imaging functions that leverage dominant P and S signals. This method allows us to target particular converted-wave scattering geometries, for example incident S to scattered P, which may be expected to have dominant signals in any given data set. The method is intended to be applied to dense seismic array observations that adequately capture both incident and converted wavefields. We draw a direct connection between our imaging functions and the first-order contrasts in shear wave material properties across seismic discontinuities. Through tests on synthetic data using either S → P or P → S conversions, we find that our technique can successfully recover the structure of a subducting slab using data from a dense wide-angle array of surface stations. We also calculate images with a small-aperture array to test the impact of array geometry on image resolution and interpretability. Our results show that our imaging technique is capable of imaging multiple seismic discontinuities at depth, even with a small number of earthquakes, but that limitations arise when a small aperture array is considered. In this case, the presence of artefacts makes it more difficult to determine the location of seismic discontinuities.

Publication Year 2023
Title Converted-wave reverse time migration imaging in subduction zone settings
DOI 10.1093/gji/ggad308
Authors Leah Langer, Fred Pollitz, Jeffrey McGuire
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geophysical Journal International
Index ID 70247705
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earthquake Science Center