Effects of slight anisotropy on surface waves

Erik W.F. Larson, Jeroen Tromp, Göran Ekström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


We present a complete ray theory for the calculation of surface-wave observables from anisotropic phase-velocity maps. Starting with the surface-wave dispersion relation in an anisotropic earth model, we derive practical dynamical ray-tracing equations. These equations allow calculation of the observables phase, arrival angle and amplitude in a ray theoretical framework. Using perturbation theory, we also obtain approximate expressions for these observables. We assess the accuracy of the first-order approximations by using both theories to make predictions on a sample anisotropic phase-velocity map. A comparison of the two methods illustrates the size and type of errors which are introduced by perturbation theory. Perturbation theory phase and arrival-angle predictions agree well with the exact calculation, but amplitude predictions are poor. Many previous studies have modelled surface-wave propagation using only isotropic structure, not allowing for anisotropy. We present hypothetical examples to simulate isotropic modelling of surface waves which pass through anisotropic material. Synthetic data sets of phase and arrival angle are produced by ray tracing with exact ray theory on anisotropic phase-velocity maps. The isotropic models obtained by inverting synthetic anisotropic phase data sets produce deceptively high variance reductions because the effects of anisotropy are mapped into short-wavelength isotropic structure. Inversion of synthetic arrival-angle data sets for isotropic models results in poor variance reductions and poor recovery of the isotropic part of the anisotropic input map. Therefore, successful anisotropic phase-velocity inversions of real data require the inclusion of both phase and arrival-angle measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)654-666
Number of pages13
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


  • Anisotropy
  • Earth structure
  • Surface waves
  • Tomography


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