Imaging the inner core under Africa and Europe

Jessica Claire Elizabeth Irving

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The inner core under Africa is thought to be a region where the nature of inner core texture changes: from the strongly anisotropic 'western' part of the inner core to the weakly anisotropic, or isotropic 'eastern' part of the inner core. Additionally, observations of a difference in isotropic velocity between the two hemispheres have been made. A very large new dataset of simultaneous PKPdf and PKPbc observations, on which differential travel times have been measured, is used to examine the upper 360 km of the inner core under Europe, Africa and the surrounding oceans. Inversion of the differential travel time data for laterally varying inner core anisotropy reveals that inner core anisotropy is stronger under central Africa and the Atlantic Ocean than under the western Indian Ocean. No hemispherical pattern is present in Voigt isotropic velocities, indicating that the variation in anisotropy is due to differing degrees of crystal alignment in the inner core, not material differences. When anisotropy is permitted to change with depth, the upper east-most part of the study region shows weaker anisotropy than the central and western regions. When depth dependence in the inner core is neglected the hemisphere boundary is better represented as a line at 40°E than one at 10°E, however, it is apparent that the variation of anisotropy as a function of depth means that one line of longitude cannot truly separate the more and less anisotropic regions of the inner core. The anisotropy observed in the part of the inner core under Africa which lies in the 'western' hemisphere is much weaker than that under central America, showing that the western hemisphere is not uniformly anisotropic. As the region of low anisotropy spans a significant depth extent, it is likely that heterogeneous heat fluxes in the core, which may cause variations in inner core anisotropy, have persisted for several hundred million years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-24
Number of pages13
JournalPhysics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
StatePublished - May 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Anisotropy
  • Hemisphere boundary
  • Inner core
  • PKPdf


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