May 18, 2022

Planet-scale MRI: High resolution illumination of Earth’s interior down to the planet’s core

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Earthquakes do more than buckle streets and topple buildings. Seismic waves generated by earthquakes pass through the Earth, acting like a giant MRI machine and providing clues to what lies inside the planet.

Seismologists have developed methods to take wave signals from the networks of seismometers at the Earth’s surface and reverse engineer features and characteristics of the medium they pass through, a process known as seismic tomography.

For decades, was based on ray theory, and seismic waves were treated like light rays. This served as a pretty good approximation and led to major discoveries about the Earth’s interior. But to improve the resolution of current seismic tomographic models, seismologists need to take into account the full complexity of wave propagation using numerical simulations, known as full-waveform inversion, says Ebru Bozdag, assistant professor in the Geophysics Department at the Colorado School of Mines.

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