Simulation of anisotropic wave propagation based upon a spectral element method

Dimitri Komatitsch, Christophe Barnes, Jeroen Tromp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

213 Scopus citations


We introduce a numerical approach for modeling elastic wave propagation in 2-D and 3-D fully anisotropic media based upon a spectral element method. The technique solves a weak formulation of the wave equation, which is discretized using a high-order polynomial representation on a finite element mesh. For isotropic media, the spectral element method is known for its high degree of accuracy, its ability to handle complex model geometries, and its low computational cost. We show that the method can be extended to fully anisotropic media. The mass matrix obtained is diagonal by construction, which leads to a very efficient fully explicit solver. We demonstrate the accuracy of the method by comparing it against a known analytical solution for a 2-D transversely isotropic test case, and by comparing its predictions against those based upon a finite difference method for a 2-D heterogeneous, anisotropic medium. We show its generality and its flexibility by modeling wave propagation in a 3-D transversely isotropic medium with a symmetry axis tilted relative to the axes of the grid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1251-1260
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


Dive into the research topics of 'Simulation of anisotropic wave propagation based upon a spectral element method'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this