Detection of an ultralow velocity zone at the core-mantle boundary using diffracted PKKPab waves

Sebastian Rost, Edward Garnero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


[1] Seismic phases diffracted around Earth's core contain information about lowermost mantle wave speeds. By measuring the slowness of incident diffracted energy from array recordings, seismic velocity along the diffracted path can be estimated. Here we apply this principle to diffraction of the major arc seismic phase PKKPab recorded at the Canadian Yellowknife array to estimate P wave velocity variations along the core-mantle boundary. We observe PKKPdiffab about 7.5° past the ray theoretical cutoff distance for PKKPab. We utilize 330 western Pacific rim earthquakes that allow us to probe the core-mantle boundary beneath the North Atlantic and the South Pacific oceans using PKKPdiffab. Slowness and back azimuth are measured by frequency-wave number analysis. Mapping PKKPdiffab slowness variations suggest 4-19% P wave velocity reductions relative to PREM, in good agreement with the magnitude of velocity reductions previously mapped in ultralow velocity zones. The PKKPdiffab slowness and back-azimuth variations combined with results from previous ULVZ studies using SPdiffKS imply that the lowered velocities occur at the base of the mantle beneath the North Atlantic Ocean, along the receiver side of raypaths. PKKPdiffab array measurements thus hold important potential for mapping ultralow velocity zone structure in so far unprobed regions of the lower mantle as well as for providing additional and independent information about lower mantle structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberB07309
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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