Seismic structure of the European upper mantle based on adjoint tomography

Hejun Zhu, Ebru Bozdăg, Jeroen Tromp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


We use adjoint tomography to iteratively determine seismic models of the crust and upper mantle beneath the European continent and the North Atlantic Ocean. Three-component seismograms from 190 earthquakes recorded by 745 seismographic stations are employed in the inversion. Crustal model EPcrust combined with mantle model S362ANI comprise the 3-D starting model, EU00. Before the structural inversion, earthquake source parameters, for example centroid moment tensors and locations, are reinverted based on global 3-D Green's functions and Fréchet derivatives. This study consists of three stages. In stage one, frequencydependent phase differences between observed and simulated seismograms are used to constrain radially anisotropic wave speed variations. In stage two, frequency-dependent phase and amplitude measurements are combined to simultaneously constrain elastic wave speeds and anelastic attenuation. In these two stages, long-period surface waves and short-period body waves are combined to simultaneously constrain shallow and deep structures. In stage three frequency-dependent phase and amplitude anomalies of three-component surface waves are used to simultaneously constrain radial and azimuthal anisotropy. After this three-stage inversion we obtain a new seismic model of the European curst and upper mantle, named EU60. Improvements in misfits and histograms in both phase and amplitude help us to validate this three-stage inversion strategy. Long-wavelength elastic wave speed variations in model EU60 compare favourably with previous body- and surface wave tomographic models. Some hitherto unidentified features, such as the Adria microplate, naturally emerge from the smooth starting model. Subducting slabs, slab detachments, ancient suture zones, continental rifts and backarc basins are well resolved in model EU60. We find an anticorrelation between shear wave speed and anelastic attenuation at depths < 100 km. At greater depths, this anticorrelation becomes relatively weak, in agreement with previous global attenuation studies. Furthermore, enhanced attenuation is observed within the mantle transition zone beneath the North Atlantic Ocean. Consistent with typical radial anisotropy in 1-D reference models, the European continent is dominated by features with a radially anisotropic parameter Ξ > 1, indicating predominantly horizontal flow within the upper mantle. In addition, subduction zones, such as the Apennines and Hellenic arcs, are characterized by vertical flow withΞ < 1 at depths greater than 150 km. We find that the direction of the fast anisotropic axis is closely tied to the tectonic evolution of the region. Averaged radial peak-to-peak anisotropic strength profiles identify distinct brittleductile deformation in lithospheric strength beneath oceans and continents. Finally, we use the 'point-spread function' to assess image quality and analyse trade-offs between different model parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-52
Number of pages35
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 22 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


  • Computational seismology
  • Europe
  • Seismic anisotropy
  • Seismic attenuation
  • Seismic tomography


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