PerspectiveGeophysics

Imaging the Deep Earth

Science  23 Nov 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6110, pp. 1037-1038
DOI: 10.1126/science.1231290

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Summary

Insights into Earth's thermal and chemical structure, from the inner core to the crust, have historically been gained from analyzing seismic waves excited by earthquakes (1). However, the resolution of these methods is limited because nearly all earthquakes occur along tectonic plate boundaries, leaving large areas that are seismically quiet. Recent developments in seismic noise tomography have shown great potential for high-resolution imaging of Earth's interior structure (2). This approach yields data wherever a seismic instrument can be deployed, but the seismic noise signals (3) used to image the crustal and upper mantle structures often lack resolution for most of the remaining mantle. On page 1063 of this issue, Poli et al. (4) overcome some of these limitations, enabling the imaging of deep-Earth structures.