Double-difference adjoint seismic tomography

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46 Scopus citations


We introduce a 'double-difference' method for the inversion for seismic wave speed structure based on adjoint tomography. Differences between seismic observations and model predictions at individual stations may arise from factors other than structural heterogeneity, such as errors in the assumed source-time function, inaccurate timings and systematic uncertainties. To alleviate the corresponding non-uniqueness in the inverse problem, we construct differential measurements between stations, thereby reducing the influence of the source signature and systematic errors. We minimize the discrepancy between observations and simulations in terms of the differential measurements made on station pairs. We show how to implement the double-difference concept in adjoint tomography, both theoretically and practically. We compare the sensitivities of absolute and differential measurements. The former provide absolute information on structure along the ray paths between stations and sources, whereas the latter explain relative (and thus higher resolution) structural variations in areas close to the stations. Whereas in conventional tomography a measurement made on a single earthquake-station pair provides very limited structural information, in double-difference tomography one earthquake can actually resolve significant details of the structure. The double-difference methodology can be incorporated into the usual adjoint tomography workflow by simply pairing up all conventional measurements; the computational cost of the necessary adjoint simulations is largely unaffected. Rather than adding to the computational burden, the inversion of double-difference measurements merely modifies the construction of the adjoint sources for data assimilation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1599-1618
Number of pages20
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


  • Computational seismology
  • Inverse theory
  • Seismic tomography
  • Time-series analysis
  • Tomography
  • Wave propagation


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