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Title: GIA imaging of 3-D mantle viscosity based on palaeo sea level observations – Part I: Sensitivity kernels for an Earth with laterally varying viscosity

A key initial step in geophysical imaging is to devise an effective means of mapping the sensitivity of an observation to the model parameters, that is to compute its Fréchet derivatives or sensitivity kernel. In the absence of any simplifying assumptions and when faced with a large number of free parameters, the adjoint method can be an effective and efficient approach to calculating Fréchet derivatives and requires just two numerical simulations. In the Glacial Isostatic Adjustment problem, these consist of a forward simulation driven by changes in ice mass and an adjoint simulation driven by fictitious loads that are applied at the observation sites. The theoretical basis for this approach has seen considerable development over the last decade. Here, we present the final elements needed to image 3-D mantle viscosity using a dataset of palaeo sea-level observations. Developments include the calculation of viscosity Fréchet derivatives (i.e. sensitivity kernels) for relative sea-level observations, a modification to the numerical implementation of the forward and adjoint problem that permits application to 3-D viscosity structure, and a recalibration of initial sea level that ensures the forward simulation honours present-day topography. In the process of addressing these items, we build intuition concerning how absolute sea-level and relative sea-level observations sense Earth’s viscosity structure and the physical processes involved. We discuss examples for potential observations located in the near field (Andenes, Norway), far field (Seychelles), and edge of the forebulge of the Laurentide ice sheet (Barbados). Examination of these kernels: (1) reveals why 1-D estimates of mantle viscosity from far-field relative sea-level observations can be biased; (2) hints at why an appropriate differential relative sea-level observation can provide a better constraint on local mantle viscosity and (3) demonstrates that sea-level observations have non-negligible 3-D sensitivity to deep mantle viscosity structure, which is counter to the intuition gained from 1-D radial viscosity Fréchet derivatives. Finally, we explore the influence of lateral variations in viscosity on relative sea-level observations in the Amundsen Sea Embayment and at Barbados. These predictions are based on a new global 3-D viscosity inference derived from the shear-wave speeds of GLAD-M25 and an inverse calibration scheme that ensures compatibility with certain fundamental geophysical observations. Use of the 3-D viscosity inference leads to: (1) generally greater complexity within the kernel; (2) an increase in sensitivity and presence of shorter length-scale features within lower viscosity regions; (3) a zeroing out of the sensitivity kernel within high-viscosity regions where elastic deformation dominates and (4) shifting of sensitivity at a given depth towards distal regions of weaker viscosity. The tools and intuition built here provide the necessary framework to explore inversions for 3-D mantle viscosity based on palaeo sea-level data.

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Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
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Journal Name:
Geophysical Journal International
Medium: X Size: p. 1139-1171
["p. 1139-1171"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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