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ISSN  2096-3955

CN  10-1502/P

Citation: WenShuang Wang, XiaoDong Song, 2019: Analyses of anomalous amplitudes of antipodal PKIIKP waves, Earth and Planetary Physics. doi: 10.26464/epp2019023

doi: 10.26464/epp2019023


Analyses of anomalous amplitudes of antipodal PKIIKP waves


School of Geodesy and Geomatics, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430079, China


Department of Geology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 61820, USA

Corresponding author: XiaoDong Song,

Received Date: 2019-01-28
Web Publishing Date: 2019-05-01

Approaching the distance of 180°, seismic focusing greatly amplifies the normally weak PKIIKP phase (underside reflection from the inner core boundary). Anomalously strong amplitudes of the PKIIKP phase reported previously at near antipodal distances (at seismic station TAM in North Africa) have been interpreted to infer anomalous structure(s) of the inner core boundary (including a sharp drop of compressional wave speed in the bottommost outer core or a near-zero shear wave speed in the topmost inner core). However, our observations of 12 earthquakes located antipodal to TAM (including the previously cited four events) suggest, for several reasons, that the anomalous PKIIKP energy might be a seismic phase misidentification. The anomalous phase appeared at distances less than 179.6° but not at larger distances (~179.8°). The phase appears consistently from antipode to distances less than 160° and has horizontal slowness similar to the PKIKP phase (going straight through the inner core). Its travel times vary greatly and show a systematic difference between two groups of events at different distances. A simple point scatter provides a good match to the travel times and the systematic variation of the anomalous phase at most stations, suggesting that it could originate from scattering off strong heterogeneities in the mantle wedge above the subducting Tonga slab. The phase misidentification suggests that the previously proposed inner core boundary structure(s) based on the anomalous phase need to be re-evaluated.

Key words: PKIIKP; PKIKP; antipodal; inner core; amplitude; scattering

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Analyses of anomalous amplitudes of antipodal PKIIKP waves

WenShuang Wang, XiaoDong Song