Imaging Offsets in the Moho: Synthetic Tests using Gaussian Beams with Teleseismic Waves

Research paper by Robert L. Nowack, Wang-Ping Chen, Ulrich Kruse, Saptarshi Dasgupta

Indexed on: 04 Jul '07Published on: 04 Jul '07Published in: Pure and Applied Geophysics


We carry out a sequence of numerical tests to understand conditions under which rapid changes in crustal thickness can be reliably imaged by teleseismic body waves. Using the finite-difference method over a 2-D grid, we compute synthetic seismograms resulting from a planar P-wavefield incident below the grid. We then image the Moho using a migration scheme based on the Gaussian beam representation of the wavefield. The use of Gaussian beams for the downward propagation of the wavefield is particularly advantageous in certain geologically critical cases such as overthrusting of continental lithosphere, resulting in the juxtaposition of high-velocity mantle material over crustal rocks. In contrast to ray-based methods, Gaussian beam migration requires no special treatment to handle such heterogeneities. Our results suggest that with adequate station spacing and signal-to-noise ratios, offsets of the Moho, on the order of 10 km in height, can be reliably imaged beneath thickened crust at depths of about 50 km. Furthermore, even sharp corners and edges are faithfully imaged when precise values of seismic wave speeds are available. Our tests also demonstrate that flexibility in choices of different types of seismic phases is important, because any single phase has trade-offs in issues such as spatial resolution, array aperture, and amplitude of signals.