Analyses of anomalous amplitudes of antipodal PKIIKP waves

Wen Shuang Wang, Xiao Dong Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Approaching the distance of 180°, seismic focusing greatly amplifies the normally weak PKIIKP phase (underside reflection from the inner core boundary). Anomalously strong amplitudes of the PKIIKP phase reported previously at near antipodal distances (at seismic station TAM in North Africa) have been interpreted to infer anomalous structure(s) of the inner core boundary (including a sharp drop of compressional wave speed in the bottommost outer core or a near-zero shear wave speed in the topmost inner core). However, our observations of 12 earthquakes located antipodal to TAM (including the previously cited four events) suggest, for several reasons, that the anomalous PKIIKP energy might be a seismic phase misidentification. The anomalous phase appeared at distances less than 179.6° but not at larger distances (~179.8°). The phase appears consistently from antipode to distances less than 160° and has horizontal slowness similar to the PKIKP phase (going straight through the inner core). Its travel times vary greatly and show a systematic difference between two groups of events at different distances. A simple point scatter provides a good match to the travel times and the systematic variation of the anomalous phase at most stations, suggesting that it could originate from scattering off strong heterogeneities in the mantle wedge above the subducting Tonga slab. The phase misidentification suggests that the previously proposed inner core boundary structure(s) based on the anomalous phase need to be re-evaluated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-217
Number of pages6
JournalEarth and Planetary Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2019


  • amplitude
  • antipodal
  • inner core
  • scattering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


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