pure and applied geophysics

, Volume 160, Issue 3–4, pp 717–737 | Cite as

Seismic Tomography of the Lithosphere with Body Waves

  • C. H. Thurber


— A pair of papers in 1976 lead-authored by Kei Aki heralded the beginning of the field of seismic tomography of the lithosphere. The 1976 paper by Aki, Christoffersson, and Husebye introduced a simple and approximate yet elegant technique for using body-wave arrival times from teleseismic earthquakes to infer the three-dimensional (3-D) seismic velocity heterogeneities beneath a seismic array or network (teleseismic tomography). Similarly, a 1976 paper by Aki and Lee presented a method for inferring 3-D structure beneath a seismic network using body-wave arrival times from local earthquakes (local earthquake tomography). Following these landmark papers, many dozens of papers and numerous books have been published presenting exciting applications of and/or innovative improvements to the methods of teleseismic and local earthquake tomography, many by Aki's students.¶This paper presents a brief review of these two types of tomography methods, discussing some of the underlying assumptions and limitations. Thereafter some of the significant methodological developments are traced over the past two and a half decades, and some of the applications of tomography that have reaped the benefits of these developments are highlighted. One focus is on the steady improvement in structural resolution and inference power brought about by the increased number and quality of seismic stations, and in particular the value of utilizing shear waves. The paper concludes by discussing exciting new scientific projects in which seismic tomography will play a major role — the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD) and USArray, the initial components of Earthscope.

Key words: Tomography, body waves, teleseismic, local earthquake. 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel, 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. H. Thurber
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1215 W. Dayton St., Madison WI 53706, U.S.A. E-mail: thurber@geology.wisc.eduUS

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