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  1. Abstract

    Seismic discontinuities in the mantle are indicators of its thermo-chemical state and offer clues to its dynamics. Ray-based seismic methods, though limited by the approximations made, have mapped mantle transition zone discontinuities in detail, but have yet to offer definitive conclusions on the presence and nature of mid-mantle discontinuities. Here, we show how to use a wave-equation-based imaging method, reverse-time migration of precursors to surface-reflected seismic body waves, to uncover both mantle transition zone and mid-mantle discontinuities, and interpret their physical nature. We observe a thinned mantle transition zone southeast of Hawaii, and a reduction in impedance contrast around 410 km depth in the same area, suggesting a hotter-than-average mantle in the region. Here, we furthermore reveal a 4000–5000 km-wide reflector in new images of the mid mantle below the central Pacific, at 950–1050 km depth. This deep discontinuity exhibits strong topography and generates reflections with polarity opposite to those originating at the 660 km discontinuity, implying an impedance reversal near 1000 km. We link this mid-mantle discontinuity to the upper reaches of deflected mantle plumes upwelling in the region. Reverse-time migration full-waveform imaging is a powerful approach to imaging Earth’s interior, capable of broadening our understanding of its structure and dynamics and shrinking modeling uncertainties.

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  2. SUMMARY We present the first 16 months of data returned from a mobile array of 16 freely floating diving instruments, named mermaid for Mobile Earthquake Recording in Marine Areas by Independent Divers, launched in French Polynesia in late 2018. Our 16 are a subset of the 50 mermaid deployed over a number of cruises in this vast and understudied oceanic province as part of the collaborative South Pacific Plume Imaging and Modeling (SPPIM) project, under the aegis of the international EarthScope-Oceans consortium. Our objective is the hydroacoustic recording, from within the oceanic water column, of the seismic wavefield generated by earthquakes worldwide, and the nearly real-time transmission by satellite of these data, collected above and in the periphery of the South Pacific Superswell. This region, characterized by anomalously elevated oceanic crust and myriad seamounts, is believed to be the surface expression of deeply rooted mantle upwellings. Tomographically imaging Earth’s mantle under the South Pacific with data from these novel instruments requires a careful examination of the earthquake-to-mermaid traveltimes of the high-frequency P-wave detections within the windows selected for reporting by the discrimination algorithms on board. We discuss a workflow suitable for a fast-growing mobile sensor database to pick the relevant arrivals, match them to known earthquakes in global earthquake catalogues, calculate their traveltime residuals with respect to global seismic reference models, characterize their quality and estimate their uncertainty. We detail seismicity rates as recorded by mermaid over 16 months, quantify the completeness of our catalogue and discuss magnitude–distance relations of detectability for our network. The projected lifespan of an individual mermaid is 5 yr, allowing us to estimate the final size of the data set that will be available for future study. To prove their utility for seismic tomography we compare mermaid data quality against ‘traditional’ land seismometers and their low-cost Raspberry Shake counterparts, using waveforms recovered from instrumented island stations in the geographic neighbourhood of our floats. Finally, we provide the first analyses of traveltime anomalies for the new ray paths sampling the mantle under the South Pacific. 
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  3. null (Ed.)
    Abstract To better understand earthquakes as a hazard and to better understand the interior structure of the Earth, we often want to measure the physical displacement, velocity, or acceleration at locations on the Earth’s surface. To this end, a routine step in an observational seismology workflow is the removal of the instrument response, required to convert the digital counts recorded by a seismometer to physical displacement, velocity, or acceleration. The conceptual framework, which we briefly review for students and researchers of seismology, is that of the seismometer as a linear time-invariant system, which records a convolution of ground motion via a transfer function that gain scales and phase shifts the incoming signal. In practice, numerous software packages are widely used to undo this convolution via deconvolution of the instrument’s transfer function. Here, to allow the reader to understand this process, we start by taking a step back to fully explore the choices made during this routine step and the reasons for making them. In addition, we introduce open-source routines in Python and MATLAB as part of our rflexa package, which identically reproduce the results of the Seismic Analysis Code, a ubiquitous and trusted reference. The entire workflow is illustrated on data recorded by several instruments on Princeton University campus in Princeton, New Jersey, of the 9 September 2020 magnitude 3.1 earthquake in Marlboro, New Jersey. 
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  4. null (Ed.)
  5. Constraining the thermal and compositional state of the mantle is crucial for deciphering the formation and evolution of Mars. Mineral physics predicts that Mars’ deep mantle is demarcated by a seismic discontinuity arising from the pressure-induced phase transformation of the mineral olivine to its higher-pressure polymorphs, making the depth of this boundary sensitive to both mantle temperature and composition. Here, we report on the seismic detection of a midmantle discontinuity using the data collected by NASA’s InSight Mission to Mars that matches the expected depth and sharpness of the postolivine transition. In five teleseismic events, we observed triplicated P and S waves and constrained the depth of this discontinuity to be 1,006 ± 40 km by modeling the triplicated waveforms. From this depth range, we infer a mantle potential temperature of 1,605 ± 100 K, a result consistent with a crust that is 10 to 15 times more enriched in heat-producing elements than the underlying mantle. Our waveform fits to the data indicate a broad gradient across the boundary, implying that the Martian mantle is more enriched in iron compared to Earth. Through modeling of thermochemical evolution of Mars, we observe that only two out of the five proposed composition models are compatible with the observed boundary depth. Our geodynamic simulations suggest that the Martian mantle was relatively cold 4.5 Gyr ago (1,720 to 1,860 K) and are consistent with a present-day surface heat flow of 21 to 24 mW/m 2 . 
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  6. Abstract

    Establishing an extensive and highly durable, long-term, seafloor network of autonomous broadband seismic stations to complement the land-based Global Seismographic Network has been a goal of seismologists for decades. Seismic signals, chiefly the vibrations from earthquakes but also signals generated by storms and other environmental processes, have been processed from land-based seismic stations to build intriguing but incomplete images of the Earth’s interior. Seismologists have mapped structures such as tectonic plates and other crustal remnants sinking deep into the mantle to obtain information on their chemical composition and physical state; but resolution of these structures from land stations is not globally uniform. Because the global surface is two-thirds ocean, increasing the number of seismic stations located in the oceans is critical for better resolution of the Earth’s interior and tectonic structures. A recommendation for a long-term seafloor seismic station pilot experiment is presented here. The overarching instrumentation goal of a pilot experiment is performance that will lead to the installation of a large number of long-term autonomous ocean-bottom seismic stations. The payoff of a network of stations separated from one another by a few hundred kilometers under the global oceans would be greatly refined resolution of the Earth’s interior at all depths. A second prime result would be enriched understanding of large-earthquake rupture processes in both oceanic and continental plates. The experiment would take advantage of newly available technologies such as robotic wave gliders that put an affordable autonomous prototype within reach. These technologies would allow data to be relayed to satellites from seismometers that are deployed on the seafloor with long-lasting, rechargeable batteries. Two regions are presented as promising arenas for such a prototype seafloor seismic station. One site is the central North Atlantic Ocean, and the other high-interest locale is the central South Pacific Ocean.

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  7. Topography, or depth variation, of certain interfaces in the solid Earth can provide important insights into the dynamics of our planet interior. Although the intermediate- and long-range topographic variation of the 660-kilometer boundary between Earth’s upper and lower mantle is well studied, small-scale measurements are far more challenging. We found a surprising amount of topography at short length scale along the 660-kilometer boundary in certain regions using scattered P'P' seismic waves. Our observations required chemical layering in regions with high short-scale roughness. By contrast, we did not see such small-scale topography along the 410-kilometer boundary in the upper mantle. Our findings support the concept of partially blocked or imperfect circulation between the upper and lower mantle. 
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  8. Abstract

    Vigorous convection in Earth's outer core led to the suggestion that it is chemically homogeneous. However, there is increasing seismic evidence for structural complexities close to the outer core's upper and lower boundaries. Both body waves and normal mode data have been used to estimate awave velocity,, at the top of the outer core (thelayer), which is lower than that in the Preliminary Reference Earth Model. However, these lowmodels do not agree on the form of this velocity anomaly. One reason for this is the difficulty in retrieving and measuringarrival times. To address this issue, we propose a novel approach using data from seismic arrays to iteratively measuredifferential travel times. This approach extracts individualsignal from mixed waveforms of theseries, allowing us to reliably measure differential travel times. We successfully use this method to measuretime delays from earthquakes in the Fiji‐Tonga and Vanuatu subduction zones.time delays are measured by waveform cross correlation betweenand, and the cross‐correlation coefficient allows us to access measurement quality. We also apply this iterative scheme to syntheticseismograms to investigate the 3‐D mantle structure's effects. The mantle structure corrections are not negligible for our data, and neglecting them could bias theestimation of uppermost outer core. After mantle structure corrections, we can still see substantial time delays of,, and, supporting a lowat the top of Earth's outer core.

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