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  1. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of seismic waveforms sensitive to the core–mantle boundary (CMB) region reveal the presence of ultralow-velocity zones (ULVZs) that have a strong decrease in compressional (P) and shear (S) wave velocity, and an increase in density within thin structures. However, understanding their physical origin and relation to the other large-scale structures in the lowermost mantle are limited due to an incomplete mapping of ULVZs at the CMB. The SKS and SPdKS seismic waveforms is routinely used to infer ULVZ presence, but has thus far only been used in a limited epicentral distance range. As the SKS/SPdKS wavefield interacts with a ULVZ it generates additional seismic arrivals, thus increasing the complexity of the recorded wavefield. Here, we explore utilization of the multi-scale sample entropy method to search for ULVZ structures. We investigate the feasibility of this approach through analysis of synthetic seismograms computed for PREM, 1-, 2.5-, and 3-D ULVZs as well as heterogeneous structures with a strong increase in velocity in the lowermost mantle in 1- and 2.5-D. We find that the sample entropy technique may be useful across a wide range of epicentral distances from 100° to 130°. Such an analysis, when applied to real waveforms, could provide coverage of roughly 85% by surface area of the CMB. 
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    Determinations of seismic anisotropy, or the dependence of seismic wave velocities on the polarization or propagation direction of the wave, can allow for inferences on the style of deformation and the patterns of flow in the Earth’s interior. While it is relatively straightforward to resolve seismic anisotropy in the uppermost mantle directly beneath a seismic station, measurements of deep mantle anisotropy are more challenging. This is due in large part to the fact that measurements of anisotropy in the deep mantle are typically blurred by the potential influence of upper mantle and/or crustal anisotropy beneath a seismic station. Several shear wave splitting techniques are commonly used that attempt resolve seismic anisotropy in deep mantle by considering the presence of multiple anisotropic layers along a raypath. Examples include source-side S-wave splitting, which is used to characterize anisotropy in the deep upper mantle and mantle transition zone beneath subduction zones, and differential S-ScS and differential SKS-SKKS splitting, which are used to study anisotropy in the D″ layer at the base of the mantle. Each of these methods has a series of assumptions built into them that allow for the consideration of multiple regions of anisotropy. In this work, we systematically assess the accuracy of these assumptions. To do this, we conduct global wavefield modelling using the spectral element solver AxiSEM3D. We compute synthetic seismograms for earth models that include seismic anisotropy at the periods relevant for shear wave splitting measurements (down to 5 s). We apply shear wave splitting algorithms to our synthetic seismograms and analyse whether the assumptions that underpin common measurement techniques are adequate, and whether these techniques can correctly resolve the anisotropy incorporated in our models. Our simulations reveal some inaccuracies and limitations of reliability in various methods. Specifically, explicit corrections for upper mantle anisotropy, which are often used in source-side direct S splitting and S-ScS differential splitting, are typically reliable for the fast polarization direction ϕ but not always for the time lag δt, and their accuracy depends on the details of the upper mantle elastic tensor. We find that several of the assumptions that underpin the S-ScS differential splitting technique are inaccurate under certain conditions, and we suggest modifications to traditional S-ScS differential splitting approaches that lead to improved reliability. We investigate the reliability of differential SKS-SKKS splitting intensity measurements as an indicator for lowermost mantle anisotropy and find that the assumptions built into the splitting intensity formula can break down for strong splitting cases. We suggest some guidelines to ensure the accuracy of SKS-SKKS splitting intensity comparisons that are often used to infer lowermost mantle anisotropy. Finally, we suggest a new strategy to detect lowermost mantle anisotropy which does not rely on explicit upper mantle corrections and use this method to analyse the lowermost mantle beneath east Asia.

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  3. 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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  4. Ultralow-velocity zones (ULVZs) at the core–mantle boundary (CMB) represent some of the most preternatural features in Earth’s mantle. These zones most likely contain partial melt, extremely high iron content ferropericlase, or combinations of both. We analyzed a new collection of 58,155 carefully processed and quality-controlled broadband recordings of the seismic phase SPdKS in the epicentral distance range from 106° to 115°. These data sample 56.9% of the CMB by surface area. From these recordings we searched for the most anomalous seismic waveforms that are indicative of ULVZ presence. We used a Bayesian approach to identify the regions of the CMB that have the highest probability of containing ULVZs, thereby identifying sixteen regions of interest. Of these regions, we corroborate well-known ULVZ existence beneath the South China Sea, southwest Pacific, the Samoa hotspot, the southwestern US/northern Mexico, and Iceland. We find good evidence for new ULVZs beneath North Africa, East Asia, and north of Papua New Guinea. We provide further evidence for ULVZs in regions where some evidence has been hinted at before beneath the Philippine Sea, the Pacific Northwest, and the Amazon Basin. Additional evidence is shown for potential ULVZs at the base of the Caroline, San Felix and Galapagos hotspots. 
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  5. Abstract

    We analyzed 4,754 broadband seismic recordings of the SKS, SKKS, and SPdKS wavefield from 13 high quality events sampling the Samoa ultralow‐velocity zone (ULVZ). We measured differential travel‐times and amplitudes between the SKKS and SKS arrivals, which are highly sensitive to the emergence of the SPdKS seismic phase, which is in turn highly sensitive to lowermost mantle velocity perturbations such as generated by ULVZs. We modeled these data using a 2‐D axi‐symmetric waveform modeling approach and are able to explain these data with a single ULVZ. In order to predict both travel‐time and amplitude perturbations we found that a large ULVZ length in the great circle arc direction on the order of 10° or larger is required. The large ULVZ length limits acceptable ULVZ elastic parameters. Here we find that δVSand δVPreductions from 20% to 22% and 15% to 17% respectively gives us the best fit, with a thickness of 26 km. Initial 3‐D modeling efforts do not recover the extremes in the differential measurements, demonstrating that 3‐D effects are important and must be considered in the future. However, the 3‐D modeling is generally consistent with the velocity reductions recovered with the 2‐D modeling. These velocity reductions are compatible with a compositional component to the ULVZ. Furthermore, geodynamic predictions for a compositional ULVZ that is moving predict a long linear shape similar to the shape of the Samoa ULVZ we confirm in this study.

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  6. Abstract

    The locations of ultralow‐velocity zones (ULVZs) at the core‐mantle boundary (CMB) have been linked to a variety of features including hot spot volcanoes and large low‐velocity province (LLVP) boundaries, yet only a small portion of the CMB region has been probed for ULVZ existence. Here we present a new map of lower mantle heterogeneity locations using a global collection of highly anomalous SPdKS recordings based on a dataset of more than 58,000 radial component seismograms, which sample 56.9% of the CMB by surface area. The inference of heterogeneity location using the SPdKS seismic phase is challenging due to source‐versus receiver‐side ambiguity. Due to this ambiguity, we conducted an inversion using the principle of parsimony. The inversion is conducted using a genetic algorithm which is repeated several thousand times in order to construct heterogeneity probability maps. This analysis reveals that at probabilities0.5, 0.25, and 0.125 up to 1.3%, 8.2%, or 19.7% of the CMB may contain ULVZ‐like heterogeneities. These heterogeneities exist in all lower mantle settings, including both high‐ and low‐velocity regions. Additionally, we present evidence that the Samoan ULVZ may be twice as large as previously estimated, and also present evidence for the existence of additional mega‐sized ULVZs, such as a newly discovered ULVZ located to the east of the Philippines. We provide new evidence for the ULVZ east of the Philippines through an analysis of ScP records.

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