Estimation of splitting functions from Earth's normal mode spectra using the neighbourhood algorithm

Surya Pachhai*, Hrvoje Tkalčić, Guy Masters

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    The inverse problem for Earth structure from normal mode data is strongly non-linear and can be inherently non-unique. Traditionally, the inversion is linearized by taking partial derivatives of the complex spectra with respect to the model parameters (i.e. structure coefficients), and solved in an iterative fashion. This method requires that the earthquake source model is known. However, the release of energy in large earthquakes used for the analysis of Earth's normal modes is not simple. A point source approximation is often inadequate, and a more complete account of energy release at the source is required. In addition, many earthquakes are required for the solution to be insensitive to the initial constraints and regularization. In contrast to an iterative approach, the autoregressive linear inversion technique conveniently avoids the need for earthquake source parameters, but it also requires a number of events to achieve full convergence when a single event does not excite all singlets well. To build on previous improvements, we develop a technique to estimate structure coefficients (and consequently, the splitting functions) using a derivative-free parameter search, known as neighbourhood algorithm (NA).We implement an efficient forward method derived using the autoregresssion of receiver strips, and this allows us to search over a multiplicity of structure coefficients in a relatively short time. After demonstrating feasibility of the use of NA in synthetic cases, we apply it to observations of the inner core sensitive mode 13S2. The splitting function of this mode is dominated by spherical harmonic degree 2 axisymmetric structure and is consistent with the results obtained from the autoregressive linear inversion. The sensitivity analysis of multiple events confirms the importance of the Bolivia, 1994 earthquake. When this event is used in the analysis, as little as two events are sufficient to constrain the splitting functions of 13S2 mode. Apart from not requiring the knowledge of earthquake source, the newly developed technique provides an approximate uncertainty measure of the structure coefficients and allows us to control the type of structure solved for, for example to establish if elastic structure is sufficient.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)111-126
    Number of pages16
    JournalGeophysical Journal International
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


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