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  1. East Antarctica is covered by thick sheets of ice and is underlain by stable cratonic lithosphere, extensive mountain ranges, and subglacial basins. The sparse seismic coverage in this region makes it difficult to assess the crustal and mantle structure, which are important to understanding the tectonic evolution of the continent as well as the behavior of the overlying ice sheets. Present tomographic models lack resolution and are often inconsistent with one another; therefore, delineating sub-surface characteristics associated with old rift systems or structures that would allow us to assess the origins of the Wilkes and Aurora subglacial basins, for instance, becomes challenging. To overcome these limitations, we are using a full-waveform tomography method to model the crustal and upper mantle structure in East Antarctica. We have used a frequency-time normalization approach to extract empirical Green’s functions (EGFs) from ambient seismic noise, between periods of 15-340 seconds. The ray path coverage of the EGFs is dense throughout East Antarctica, indicating that our study will provide new, high resolution imaging of this area. Synthetic waveforms are simulated through a three-dimensional heterogeneous Earth model using a finite-difference wave propagation method with a grid spacing of 0.025º (~ 2.25 km), which accurately reproduce Rayleighmore »waves at 15+ seconds. Following this, phase delays are measured between the synthetics and the data, sensitivity kernels are constructed using a scattering integral approach, and we invert using a sparse, least-squares method. The resulting shear-wave velocity model will be used to assess crustal and upper mantle features, ultimately aimed at resolving whether old rift systems exist within East Antarctica in relation to prominent subglacial basins. Preliminary results will be shared.« less
  2. The structure of the Antarctic crust is important to our understanding of processes occurring within the Antarctic cryosphere as well as to the Earth’s response to ice mass loss. With the increase in geophysical studies of Antarctica, crustal structure has become much better defined beneath many regions. Several crustal models have been created from seismic-derived and/or gravity-derived data, and some of these models incorporate sets of crustal receiver functions either as a priori constraints or to validate model results. However, receiver function constraints do not exist throughout large regions of Antarctica due to a lack of seismic coverage; given this, we search for additional metrics by which we can compare and contrast Earth models. One approach that has been utilized for other continents is to forward model accurate synthetic waveforms through existing seismic velocity models to identify which models most accurately reproduce seismic waveform datasets. Such waveform datasets may come from accurately determined seismic events or from ambient seismic noise. In an effort to assess existing Antarctic crustal models using a different metric to identify regions where crustal structure is still most uncertain, we have collected a suite of available seismic- and gravity-derived Antarctic crustal models. In the absence ofmore »accurately determined ‘ground-truthed’ seismic events in Antarctica, we use a frequency-time normalization approach to extract Rayleigh waves from ambient seismic noise, with periods of 15-55 seconds that are sensitive to crustal structure. We split the observations into two separate validation datasets. The first dataset includes all station-station cross-correlations, with at least one seismic station in each pair that has not been previously used to constrain prior tomographic inversions (a true validation dataset), and the second dataset includes all available station-station cross-correlations, including those that may have been used to constrain some of the models we are testing. We construct sets of Earth models from the available crustal models underlain by two different upper mantle models. We forward model synthetic waveforms using a finite difference approach through each of the Earth models and measure the phase delays between the synthetic waveforms and the ambient seismic noise dataset. Results from our waveform validation study and identification of the poorly characterized regions of Antarctic crust are forthcoming and will be presented.« less
  3. With the ongoing discussion of Earth structure under West Antarctica and how it relates to the extension and volcanism of the area, we explore the possibility of a hydrated or thermally perturbed mantle underneath the region. Using P-wave receiver functions, we focus on the Mantle Transition Zone (MTZ) and how its thickness fluctuates from the global average (240-260 km). Prior studies have explored the West Antarctic regions of Marie Byrd Land and the West Antarctic Rift, but we expand this to include ~3-5 years of recent, additional seismic data from the Amundsen Sea and Pine Island Bay regions. Several years of additional data from the Ronne-Fichtner Ice Shelf, Ellsworth Land, and Marie Byrd Land regions will help provide a more complete picture of the mantle transition zone. Data for this study was obtained from IRIS for earthquakes of a 5.5 magnitude or greater. We use an iterative, time domain deconvolution method, filtered with Gaussian widths of 0.5, 0.75, and 1.0. All events within their respective Gaussian filter have undergone quality check by removing waveforms that have lower than 85% fit and visually checking for clear outliers. We migrate the receiver functions to depth and stack, using both single station stackingmore »and common conversion point (CCP) stacking. We migrate the CCP stacks assuming both 1D (AK-135) and 3D velocity models throughout the region. Preliminary results from single-station stacks beneath the Thurston Island and Amundsen Sea regions suggest that the MTZ thickness is similar to the global average and the depth to the transition zone appears to be depressed, with average transition zone boundaries appearing around 430 and 680 km. If the MTZ is thinner than the global average, it may be an indication for high temperature thermal anomalies or a plume under West Antarctica that may help explain the history of extension and uplift there. These results could be useful for glacial isostatic adjustment and/or geothermal heat flux models that attempt to understand ice sheet history and stability.« less