Comparing global tomography-derived and gravity-based upper mantle density models

B. C. Root*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
141 Downloads (Pure)


Current seismic tomography models show a complex environment underneath the crust, corroborated by high-precision satellite gravity observations. Both data sets are used to independently explore the density structure of the upper mantle. However, combining these two data sets proves to be challenging. The gravity-data has an inherent insensitivity in the radial direction and seismic tomography has a heterogeneous data acquisition, resulting in smoothed tomography models with de-correlation between different models for the mid-to-small wavelength features. Therefore, this study aims to assess and quantify the effect of regularization on a seismic tomography model by exploiting the high lateral sensitivity of gravity data. Seismic tomography models, SL2013sv, SAVANI, SMEAN2 and S40RTS are compared to a gravity-based density model of the upper mantle. In order to obtain similar density solutions compared to the seismic-derived models, the gravity-based model needs to be smoothed with a Gaussian filter. Different smoothening characteristics are observed for the variety of seismic tomography models, relating to the regularization approach in the inversions. Various S40RTS models with similar seismic data but different regularization settings show that the smoothening effect is stronger with increasing regularization. The type of regularization has a dominant effect on the final tomography solution. To reduce the effect of regularization on the tomographymodels, an enhancement procedure is proposed. This enhancement should be performed within the spectral domain of the actual resolution of the seismic tomography model. The enhanced seismic tomography models show improved spatial correlationwith each other and with the gravity-based model. The variation of the density anomalies have similar peak-to-peak magnitudes and clear correlation to geological structures. The resolvement of the spectral misalignment between tomographic models and gravity-based solutions is the first step in the improvement of multidata inversion studies of the upper mantle and benefit from the advantages in both data sets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1542-1554
Number of pages13
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2020


  • Composition and structure of the mantle
  • Gravity anomalies and Earth structure
  • Seismic tomography


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