Ultra-Low Velocity Zones Near the Core-Mantle Boundary from Broadband PKP Precursors

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Abstract

Short-and long-period precursors of the PKP phase were used to study an ultra-low velocity zone (ULVZ) near the core-mantle boundary beneath the Western Pacific. Synthetic seismograms were computed from a hybrid method, which handles seismic wave propagation through two-dimensional complex structures. Long-period precursors were explained by Gaussian-shaped ULVZs of 60 to 80 kilometers height with P velocity drops of at least 7 percent over 100 to 300 kilometers. Short-period precursors suggest the presence of smaller scale anomalies accompanying these larger Gaussian-shaped structures. These fine structures may be areas of partial melt caused by vigorous small-scale convection or the instability of a thermal boundary layer at the mantle's base, or both.

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