Encyclopedia of Solid Earth Geophysics

2011 Edition
| Editors: Harsh K. Gupta

Seismic Anisotropy

  • Thorsten W. BeckerEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-8702-7_51


Seismic anisotropy refers to the directional dependence of seismic wave speeds and particle motion polarizations, as well as the splitting of normal modes, as caused by the elastic properties of rocks.


Many of the minerals that make up Earth are intrinsically anisotropic. When rocks are progressively deformed over geologic timescales, the alignment of mineral grains (lattice-preferred orientation, LPO) can lead to bulk anisotropy of the rock. Bulk anisotropy can additionally be generated by an ordered assembly of individually isotropic materials of different wave speeds (shape-preferred orientation, SPO). Both types of anisotropy are found within the Earth; SPO anisotropy also highlights a fundamental ambiguity between isotropic heterogeneity and anisotropy. Seismic wave propagation through an anisotropic medium depends on the wavelengths over which a particular wave type averages, complicating the analysis of seismological data. Both LPO and SPO imply...
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Detailed comments by Donna Blackman, Mark Behn, and Sergei Lebedev and valuable suggestions from Lapo Boschi, Sebastien Chevrot, David Okaya, Mark Panning, Vera Schulte-Pelkum, and an anonymous reviewer helped improve this contribution.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA