Journal of Seismology

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 453–464 | Cite as

Anomalous high amplitude ratios of P5KP/PKPab and P4KP/P(S)cP observed globally around 1 Hz

  • Marian IvanEmail author
  • Rongjiang Wang
Original Article


Amplitude ratio of 30 short-period conspicuous P5KP and PKPab phases from five intermediate depth or deep events in Fiji-Tonga recorded at European stations around 150° distance shows a mean value two to three times the ratio of the synthetic amplitudes obtained by the normal-mode theory (and ak135 model) or by full-wave theory (and PREM). There is a large variance in the results, also observed in five amplitude ratios from one event in Argentina observed at temporary stations in China around 156°. Global recordings of three major deep earthquakes in Fiji, Bonin, and Western Brazil observed at ASAR, WRA, and ZRNK arrays, at 59 North America stations and at six South Pole stations displayed conspicuous P4KP and PcP (or ScP) phases. The amplitude ratio values of P4KP vs P(S)cP are sometimes almost one order of magnitude larger than the corresponding values of the synthetics. In both cases, arrival times and slowness values (corrected for ellipticity and station elevation) at the distances up to 23° beyond the A cutoff point predicted by ray theory match both the synthetics, suggesting the observations are the AB branch of PmKP (m = 4, 5) around 1 Hz. In disagreement to ray theory, no reliable BC branch is observed neither on the recordings nor on the normal-mode synthetics. The high amplitude ratio values cannot be explained by realistic perturbations of the velocity or attenuation values of the global models in the proximity of the core-to-mantle boundary (CMB). We speculate that the focusing effects and/or strong scattering most likely associated to some anomalous velocity areas of the lowermost mantle are responsible for that. The results suggest limitations of the previous evaluations of the short-period attenuation in the outer core from PmKP amplitudes (m ≥ 3), irrespective of the fact that they are obtained by using ray theory, normal-mode or full-wave synthetics. Attempts to use PmKP arrival times in order to refine velocity structure in the proximity of CMB should be also regarded with care if the propagation times have been computed with ray theory.


BC and AB PmKP branches Amplitude ratio Slowness CMB Full-wave theory Normal-mode synthetics Outer core 



Dr. S. Wendt (University of Leipzig) kindly provided details about core phases recorded at German Seismological Network. Professor V.F. Cormier is acknowledged for providing schairy code for evaluating synthetics with Langer's approximation and PREM model. IRIS, GEOFON, and German SZGRF Data Centers are acknowledged for providing the waveform data. We thank Pawel Wiejacz and two anonymous reviewers for constructive and critical comments that have improved the manuscript. GMT files (Wessel and Smith 1996) have been used to prepare some of the diagrams.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeophysicsUniversity of BucharestBucharest o.p.37Romania
  2. 2.National Institute of Earth PhysicsBucharest-MagureleRomania
  3. 3.Helmholtz Center Potsdam, GFZ German Research Center for GeosciencesPotsdamGermany

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