Multiparameter adjoint tomography of the crust and upper mantle beneath East Asia: 1. Model construction and comparisons

Min Chen, Fenglin Niu, Qinya Liu, Jeroen Tromp, Xiufen Zheng

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130 Scopus citations


We present a 3-D radially anisotropic model of the crust and mantle beneath East Asia down to 900 km depth. Adjoint tomography based on a spectral element method is applied to a phenomenal data set comprising 1.7 million frequency-dependent traveltime measurements from waveforms of 227 earthquakes recorded by 1869 stations. Compressional wave speeds are independently constrained and simultaneously inverted along with shear wave speeds (VSH and VSV) using the same waveform data set with comparable resolution. After 20 iterations, the new model (named EARA2014) exhibits sharp and detailed wave speed anomalies with improved correlations with surface tectonic units compared to previous models. In the upper 100 km, high wave speed (high-V) anomalies correlate very well with the Junggar and Tarim Basins, the Ordos Block, and the Yangtze Platform, while strong low wave speed (low-V) anomalies coincide with the Qiangtang Block, the Songpan Ganzi Fold Belt, the Chuandian Block, the Altay-Sayan Mountain Range, and the back-arc basins along the Pacific and Philippine Sea Plate margins. At greater depths, narrow high-V anomalies correspond to major subduction zones and broad high-V anomalies to cratonic roots in the upper mantle and fragmented slabs in the mantle transition zone. In particular, EARA2014 reveals a strong high-V structure beneath Tibet, appearing below 100 km depth and extending to the bottom of the mantle transition zone, and laterally spanning across the Lhasa and Qiangtang Blocks. In this paper we emphasize technical aspects of the model construction and provide a general discussion through comparisons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1762-1786
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • East Asia
  • adjoint tomography
  • compressional wave speed
  • radial anisotropy
  • shear wave speed


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