Indexed on: 24 Nov '16Published on: 24 Nov '16Published in: Pure and Applied Geophysics
Surface wave tomography based on continuous regionalization of model parameters is widely used to invert for 2-D phase or group velocity maps. An inevitable problem is that the distribution of ray paths is far from homogeneous due to the spatially uneven distribution of stations and seismic events, which often affects the spatial resolution of the tomographic model. We present an improved tomographic method with a spatially varying smoothing scheme that is based on the continuous regionalization approach. The smoothness of the inverted model is constrained by the Gaussian a priori model covariance function with spatially varying correlation lengths based on ray path density. In addition, a two-step inversion procedure is used to suppress the effects of data outliers on tomographic models. Both synthetic and real data are used to evaluate this newly developed tomographic algorithm. In the synthetic tests, when the contrived model has different scales of anomalies but with uneven ray path distribution, we compare the performance of our spatially varying smoothing method with the traditional inversion method, and show that the new method is capable of improving the recovery in regions of dense ray sampling. For real data applications, the resulting phase velocity maps of Rayleigh waves in SE Tibet produced using the spatially varying smoothing method show similar features to the results with the traditional method. However, the new results contain more detailed structures and appears to better resolve the amplitude of anomalies. From both synthetic and real data tests we demonstrate that our new approach is useful to achieve spatially varying resolution when used in regions with heterogeneous ray path distribution.