Evidence for the innermost inner core: Robust parameter search for radially varying anisotropy using the Neighbourhood Algorithm




Stephenson, Joanne
Tkalčić, Hrvoje
Sambridge, Malcolm

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Wiley Blackwell


The model of cylindrical anisotropy in the inner core (IC) states that seismic rays traveling parallel to the Earth's rotational axis travel faster than those parallel to the equator. There have been continuing discrepancies in estimates of the strength and orientation of anisotropy, with some evidence suggesting that such a model may not be supported by available data. Here, we scrutinize the radial dependence of anisotropy within the IC, where the nature of anisotropy has been shown to change anywhere between a 300 and 800 km radius. We use recent travel time data from the International Seismological Centre in conjunction with the neighborhood algorithm to provide a robust means of testing this idea, through examination of an ensemble of models that satisfactorily fit the data. This can be done with no explicit regularization and without the need for subjective choices associated with binning of phase data. In addition, uncertainty bounds are calculated for anisotropic parameters using a likelihood ratio approach. We find evidence to suggest that commonly employed spatial averaging (binning) methods may be detrimental to obtaining reliable results. We conclude that there is no significant change in the strength of anisotropy with depth in the IC. Instead, we find a change in the slow direction of anisotropy to 54° within the innermost IC at an ∼650 km radius with fast direction parallel to the Earth's rotational axis.





Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth


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