Forward and adjoint simulations of seismic wave propagation on fully unstructured hexahedral meshes

Daniel Peter, Dimitri Komatitsch, Yang Luo, Roland Martin, Nicolas Le Goff, Emanuele Casarotti, Pieyre Le Loher, Federica Magnoni, Qinya Liu, Céline Blitz, Tarje Nissen-Meyer, Piero Basini, Jeroen Tromp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

265 Scopus citations


We present forward and adjoint spectral-element simulations of coupled acoustic and (an)elastic seismic wave propagation on fully unstructured hexahedral meshes. Simulations benefit from recent advances in hexahedral meshing, load balancing and software optimization. Meshing may be accomplished using a mesh generation tool kit such as CUBIT, and load balancing is facilitated by graph partitioning based on the SCOTCH library. Coupling between fluid and solid regions is incorporated in a straightforward fashion using domain decomposition. Topography, bathymetry and Moho undulations may be readily included in the mesh, and physical dispersion and attenuation associated with anelasticity are accounted for using a series of standard linear solids. Finite-frequency Fréchet derivatives are calculated using adjoint methods in both fluid and solid domains. The software is benchmarked for a layercake model. We present various examples of fully unstructured meshes, snapshots of wavefields and finite-frequency kernels generated by Version 2.0 'Sesame' of our widely used open source spectral-element package SPECFEM3D.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)721-739
Number of pages19
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


  • Computational seismology
  • Interferometry
  • Tomography
  • Wave propagation


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