Using PKiKP coda to study heterogeneity in the top layer of the inner core's western hemisphere

Wenbo Wu, Jessica C.E. Irving

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Significant lateral and depth variations of the inner core's properties, such as the largescale hemispherical pattern, have been confirmed by a variety of seismological observations. However it is still unclear which dynamic processes in the core are responsible for these variations. Small-scale volumetric heterogeneity has been detected in the top layer of the inner core by PKiKP coda observations. Studies of these small-scale heterogeneities can provide critical information, such as the degree of alignment of iron crystals, the presence of possible partial melt and the grain size of iron crystals, all of which can be used to constrain the dynamic processes of the inner core. However, most previous observations sampled the inner core beneath the Pacific Ocean and Asia, often in the inner core's 'eastern hemisphere'.We use seismic stations in the North America, including the Earthscope Transportable Array, to look at PKiKP and its coda waves.We find 21 events with clear signals. In agreement with previous studies, inner core scattering (ICS), resulting in clear PKiKP coda, is found at epicentral distances of 60°-95°. However, the ICS we observe in these 21 western hemisphere events is weaker than previously reported for the eastern hemisphere. Comparing our observations with numerical simulations, we conclude that this relatively weak ICS indicates small-scale heterogeneity in at least the top layer of the inner core beneath Central America. Combining our clear observations with previous studies suggests either a hemispherical difference, or a regional variation, of small-scale heterogeneity in the inner core.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)672-687
Number of pages16
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


  • Body waves
  • Coda waves
  • Composition of the core
  • Core
  • Outer core and inner core
  • Wave scattering and diffraction


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