Near-Melting Condition of the Inner Core Boundary Revealed from Antipodal Seismic Waves

Monday, 15 December 2014: 2:25 PM
Vernon F Cormier1, Januka Attanayake2, Susini M S de Silva1, Meghan Samantha Miller3 and Christine Thomas4, (1)Univ Connecticut, Storrs, CT, United States, (2)Instituto Superior Tecnico, Laboratorio Sismologia, Lisboa, Portugal, (3)Univ of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, United States, (4)University of Münster, Münster, Germany
First-principles calculations1 have suggested that the inner core’s low shear velocity (3.5 km/sec) is a consequence of its temperature being very close to its melting temperature throughout its volume. Near the inner core’s freezing or melting boundary, the shear modulus could possibly approach zero. A test of this is made from observations of the amplitude of PKIIKP waves at antipodal (>175o) ranges. These underside reflections are very sensitive to the S velocity beneath the inner core boundary due to energy subtracted from PKIIKP by converted S energy. This sensitivity is exploited by modeling PKIIKP waveforms observed by a transportable array in Morocco, which recorded many high-quality antipodal waveforms from Tonga. Differences in the in the sampling of the upper inner core between PKIIKP arriving from the short (<180o) and long (>180o) distances make it feasible to investigate lateral differences in the elastic and anelastic states of uppermost inner core from the amplitude and frequency content of the waveforms. In computational experiments, we show that a zero or small shear modulus in the uppermost inner core is the most effective way of matching large amplitude PKIIKP’s observed from antipodal paths from Tonga to Morocco. The correlation of this bright spot in the PKIIKP reflection with a thin zone of low P velocity identified from multi-pathed PKIKP waves sampling a portion of the equatorial eastern hemisphere2suggests that at least this region of the inner core is near its melting temperature. Waveform modeling of PKIKP and PKIIKP from the combined effects of viscoelasticity and forward scattering is performed to determine whether this region of low shear modulus is consistent with freezing or melting.

1Martorell, B., L. Vocadlo, J.P. Brodholt, and I.G.Wood, (2013) Science, 342 (6157), doi: 10.1126/science.1243651.

2Stroujkova, A., and V.F. Cormier (2004), J. Geophys. Res., 109(B10), doi:10.1029/2004JB002976.