Imaging lateral heterogeneity in the northern Apennines from time reversal of reflected surface waves

Daniel Stich, Peter Danecek, Andrea Morelli, Jeroen Tromp

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23 Scopus citations


Prominent arrivals in the coda of seismograms from the wider Alpine area can be associated with lateral reflections of Love waves at the northern Apennines mountain chain (Italy), where structural heterogeneity causes an abrupt contrast in phase velocity. We discuss an approach to image lateral heterogeneity from reflected surface waves using intermediate-period, three-component coda waveforms as sources for an adjoint wavefield that propagates the reflections backward in time. We numerically compute three-dimensional sensitivity kernels for the dependence of coda waveforms on P velocity, S velocity and density, based upon correlations between the adjoint and the regular forward wavefields. We consider synthetic coda waveforms for a simplified model of the northern Apennines, as well as real coda observations from five moderate magnitude earthquakes (MW 4.6-5.6) in the southern Alps. Wave propagation is simulated using the spectral-element method, for which a 3-D regional earth model is used in the case of real data. Single and combined event sensitivity kernels provide clear images of the reflectivity associated with the northern Apennines in kernels for density and S-wave speed. The kernels show that surface wave reflections occur near the axial zone of the mountain chain. Apart from the Apennines, the approach is able to image other smaller reflectivity patches from the coda waveforms, like the Ivrea zone in the southern Alps. Our coda misfit kernels can be integrated in a gradient-based waveform tomography, where they could enhance the sharpness of the model at lateral discontinuities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-554
Number of pages12
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


  • Computational seismology
  • Crustal structure
  • Tomography
  • Wave scattering and diffraction


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